Conflating Aging and Degeneration

There's a lot to be said for aging. The passage of years offers many opportunities to master favored skills, figure out solutions to the issues and upsets of youth, earn the resources and connections needed for true self-sufficiency and confidence, and much more. You can build a great life, given just the time to work on it and a modicum of common sense - and then keep on building atop the foundation of that great life. Humans age like distillates: it can just keep getting better.

But of course there is the matter of degeneration and death, of disease and decrepitude.

The fact that older people are generally happier, more secure, and more confident despite what happens to the body with age is a testament to just how good being aged is. That the majority evaluate their position as far superior to that of earlier years despite the increasing corrosion of the body and the ticking away of time remaining is a powerful statement.

In the 20th century we added an unprecedented number of years to our lifespans, but is the quality of life as good? Surprisingly, yes! At TEDxWomen psychologist Laura Carstensen shows research that demonstrates that as people get older they become happier, more content, and have a more positive outlook on the world.

On this topic, I should note that over the years an unfortunately large number of apologists for aging have become somewhat dazzled by the good parts of the package, to the point at which they are unwilling to talk about picking apart aging and degeneration, or trying to radically change aging through medical technology. To their view, the world is what it is, and we should just focus on the positives and suffer the negatives with dignity. Not that that last point is easy at all - there is no dignity in the failing of the body and mind, only horrors that the dominant voices of this society seem to have chosen to try to close away behind the curtains.

It is both somewhat strange and somewhat understandable to find so many conservatives - in the dictionary definition of the word, not the political definition - in an age of rampant, ongoing, omnipresent change. Those who benefit the most from technological progress, and consequent decade by decade shifts in the minutiae of the human condition, nonetheless adopt positions based on the idea that what presently exists will continue to exist as-is into the future. It's denial, it's letting the ape inside drive - the ape who really, really, doesn't like change or upsets to the present carefully constructed social hierarchy, no matter how beneficial it might be.

Being aged is great, but it's just plain dumb to try to turn that into an argument that being sick, lessened, in agony, and driven mad is also great. Medicine will be able to remove all of these ugly aspects of old age, provided that we work hard enough and fund the right sort of research and development to a sufficient degree. The people who paint on sunny smiles and say that nothing will ever change are only helping to hold back that future.

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