Rage, rage against the dying of the light
Imagine an old man -- a very old man.
Ninety-plus years of life have taken their toll. He feels weak even at the best of times. He can no longer work, he can no longer run, he can no longer think or remember as clearly as he once could. But why?
Biochemical waste products have accumulated within his cells, degrading their function. Beta-amyloid has built up throughout the intercellular spaces of his brain, causing Alzheimer's disease. Mitochondrial DNA mutations have spread free-radical damage throughout his system. His heart and brain have suffered cell depletion because key cells in those organs do not divide and are thus not replaced when they die. Protein-molecule glycation has stiffened and weakened his blood vessels. DNA mutations in his cell nuclei have turned some cells toxic, perhaps even cancerous. If it were not for these things, his body and mind would still be as vigorous as they were when he was thirty.
These forms of cumulative damage are not qualitatively different from the kinds of degenerative diseases which medical science is already well on the way to solving. Indeed, treatments for most of them are already at least theoretically imaginable or in some cases already at the animal-testing stage. The aging process is not an immutable fact of life which we need to simply take as a given. It is a biological-engineering problem, albeit a fearfully-complex one.
I hate cemeteries, those morbid monuments to the inability of our species. There the rotted residua of what were once living, self-aware beings lie buried, never again to see or hear or think or imagine or learn, under stones engraved with the pathetic lies of our absurd, futile religions -- forged to comfort those who yet live and mourn the dead. No, they are not in some asinine Heaven, they are not at rest, they are not anywhere. They have simply become not.
But we are no longer helpless. This is not 1951. We today can do more than rage. We can fight!
Yet still I rage. I feel loathing and contempt for those people who damnably stand against mankind's cause in this great struggle, those who proclaim bovine acceptance and passivity toward decrepitude and death, those who want this ghastly carnage to keep forever scything down human beings in the future as it has always done in the past.
When a 30-year-old dies of some disease, we view it as a horror and a tragedy. Everyone supports the struggle of medical science to eradicate those few diseases which still kill young people. But the 90-year-old is no less worthy. It is an unspeakable outrage that a human being should die merely because he has existed for a long time. It is an unspeakable outrage that any human being should accept and embrace death as our right and proper fate.
We humans will not have truly triumphed until our greatest and most terrible enemy -- death itself -- is beaten. This is war -- a war of self-defense against this hideous thing which is slaughtering our kind, killing a hundred thousand of us every day. We must ignore the naysayers and pessimists and fatalists. We can do this. Our minds and our knowledge have grown great enough. We can defeat this enemy. We can kill death.