WINNIPEG, MB, Mar 9, 2014/ Troy Media/ – Manitoba-raised fashion magnate and millionaire Peter Nygard says he is using stem cell research to slow the aging process. He claims that applications of the stem-cells will benefit humankind by providing knowledge about reversing fatal diseases.
I hope Mr. Nygard doesn’t mind that he will not be unique as a saviour, or even as a vain elitist.
Less wealthy Manitobans are going to keep getting younger until we live forever, too. It’s just going to take a little more time because that’s the way it is and always has been.
A thousand years ago, the average life span of a human was just 20 years, but better foods, expanded knowledge about nutrition, and medical discoveries increased our life expectancy to 37 years just a couple of centuries ago. Sure, wealthy folks usually had access to all the life increasing goods first, but the medicines and the healthcare gradually spread to the common man and now the average Canadian is expected to live to be 85 (20 years ago, it cost $30,000 a year to cure an AIDS patient, now it’s $80).
So we’ll all catch up eventually. The rich used to be the only ones who had cell phones, now there are seven billion of them.
Stem cells aren’t even the only method to rejuvenate human beings. Over a decade ago, Sports Illustrated featured an article about genetic manipulation and replacement which allowed a 70-year old Canadian to run like a 35-year old Swede. With new muscle cells replacing aging and dying ones, the patient gradually transforms into a young person who has energy to burn (like the way young colts buck and kick and gallop around while the old stallion stands beside chewing grass). Sure, some people will still sit on their duffs and let their new muscles go to waste, but most people will have energy to burn and they’ll burn it.
This all started with organ transplants, which were medical miracles that saved the lives of terminally ill people and allowed them to contribute to the world for a longer time. There were some people around even then who could envision the possibility of eternal life and suddenly that 969-year old Methuselah in the Bible (and those aliens we read about in the comic books) could be us.
As Nygard says, “This could eliminate all disease. This perhaps is immortality,”
It is well known that stem-cell treatments may one day cure cancers, repair spinal-cord injuries and alleviate the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions. Many religious leaders have problems with the morality and ethics of it all, especially when the possibility of cloning is raised, but some of them didn’t like using the heart from one person to save another.
The bigger concern is creating two classes of people, as wealthy folks develop higher I.Q.s and other attributes which only add to the financial advantage they already enjoy. Then again, it may only be a matter of time before the rest of us catch up.
So really, it’s all about the big question (at least for our next generation or their children so long as they don’t fall under a bus and world leaders don’t blow up the place).
Would someone really want to live forever?
I guess this question will be hardest on the religious folk. Do they abandon the Ten Commandments and live the easy and selfish life of sin knowing they will never go to Hell? Or do they really want to keep making sacrifices and sharing with some of those people who don’t deserve it while putting off the great reward they expect to collect in Heaven?
With the kind of winter we’ve had here in Manitoba, less than 10 days above -10 C since December and well over a month’s full of days where the temperature has dipped below -30C, the decision to leave is obvious.
But really, who wants to leave, or live, forever?
It’s not for me. But only because I’m past the age of 60.
Then again, I really can’t see stem cells or genetic manipulation changing this pear-shaped form that I occupy.
Troy Media’s Eye on Manitoba storyteller Don Marks is a Winnipeg-based writer.
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