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The May, 2013, National Geographic Magazine has a cute picture of a blue-eyed baby on the cover. The title reads “This Baby Will Live to Be 120.” Intrigued, I read the article “New Clues to a Long Life” by Stephen S. Hall. I found the article interesting but disappointing. As with most medical “miracles,” their advances toward human longevity are so distant my bones will be dust beyond DNA replication before they’re useful.

But the article got me asking myself: Would I even want to live until I was 120? Yes, I thought, if I could remain active and productive during those later years. It’s a relative response at best, and about as sticky as an unwanted cobweb. It’s kind of like wondering what your three wishes would be from Aladdin’s fabled Genie—what you wish for could lead to disaster. And herein lies a major problem. As the article pointed out, they’ve found people that are basically immune to diseases like cancer and diabetes. They hope to eventually be able to keep the body healthy, but what about the mind? I don’t want to be able to run marathons at age ninety only to have mental wherewithal of a drooling toddler. Mental illness persists with few cures in sight, especially for the elderly.

But let’s put aside the question of personal health. What would the world be like in 120 years? Say in 2130 or 2140? Is that someplace you’d want to live? I gave this a great deal of thought when I wrote the Soul Cage series, a sci-fi murder/mystery series that takes place in 2167. If you extend the world’s current problems into the future, the conclusions are about as pleasant as a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. Wars, global warming, the extinction of species, overpopulation, and worldwide hunger will continue if future, hopefully smarter, generations don’t solve them. One solution might be that as scientists live longer, their research might continue uninterrupted and provide answers. Another solution might be the hive mentality of social media. People are connected to each other through social media like never before—like bees in a hive. If you can motivate those millions of connected minds towards a common goal—caring for the hive—the results would be infinite. But is this even possible given human nature?

Throughout history, particularly the last 150 years, people have shown an insane, self-centered, almost an instinctive, need to self-destruct. Pride, social and racial prejudices, and ancient cultural hatreds continue for no real reason other than they’ve always existed. Can we really expect the Jews and Arabs, Blacks and Whites, East and West, to the kiss and make up for the future good of all? Why not? They did in that movie “Independence Day” when those smelly, squid-like aliens threatened Earth. And as proven by 9/11, the Sandy Hook shootings, and the Boston bombing, people also have an incredible ability to join together in a crisis. They want to help. Need to help. All they need is the proper motivation. The problem is: How bad does the world’s problems have to get before people get motivated? Will they come together in the next 120 years, or will they keep passing the buck until it’s too late? I have to plead: “Don’t know. Mongo only pawn in game of life,” as the late great Alex Karras once said.

So the question remains: Would you like to live to be 120? Given physical and mental health, I think it’d be a hoot. Otherwise, not so much. I think the real question will be: What’s life going to be like in 120 years? Will personal and worldly problems continue? No doubt. But life’s no fun without the struggle. Otherwise, how would you recognize real happiness? Plus, problems are all relative to personal experience. The human race will find a way to exist. It always has. We just need to slap some gags on the doomsday prophets. Jiminy Christmas, keep the faith, will ya?

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