Why Living For 75 years Is Just Perfect
If human civilization could be assumed to have begun in 4,000 BC, then it can also be safely assumed that it took 4,000 years for religion to have a firm hold on mankind.
Between 0 AD and 500 AD, almost nothing of significance transpired in comparison to the next 500 years, during which theology, mathematics, philosophy, art, poetry and architecture witnessed seminal advancements.
From the early 17th century to the mid-18th century, there were the Dark Ages during which a sweeping cultural and economic deterioration followed the decline of the Roman Empire, prompting a reorientation of what were once thought to be acceptable and reasonable laws.
With the Age of Enlightenment dawning slowly on the horizons of the early 19th century and the tentacles of British colonization spreading far and wide, the world was, for the first time, becoming a smaller place with the establishment of the Commonwealth of Nations.
In a little over 50 years later, the industrial revolution set in and, fully keeping with its label, completely revolutionized the way the world was being managed: new economic theories had to be effected, new sciences were required to utilize the accelerating pace of life, new habits and ethics had to be set in stone lest we retained old ethics with the price of survival.
4,000 years. 500 years. 200 years. 100 years. 50 years. After the Age of Enlightenment, there’s been the space and information ages – that’s two ages within a single century – and we already seem on the cusp of another one. In fact, if we were to zoom in on the middle years of the 20th century, discreet revolutions occurring once a decade become observable.
Like a universal feedback loop, the information we generate today is used to further fine-tune our understanding of history. Subsequently, more knowledge becomes available that is mobilized in the present, resulting in even more information being squeezed out of the past. In such a time, the meaning and purpose of learning becomes altered as quickly as is necessary to keep up.
An average human being begins learning at the age of 1 (or thereabouts) and continues till the age of 30, beyond which it becomes both difficult to learn and implement at the same time, the cognitive faculties approach their twilight, and firmly-established opinions become harder to refute even though they may have found widespread logical validation.
As a result, when the required pace of learning is a steadily increasing rate, the older people become trapped in a life guarded by the conclusions of a bygone era simply due to a biological bias. Apart from becoming resigned to a usefulness dictated by the present relevance of their chosen field, an inherited insularity comes to the fore: the more regularly a person is proved wrong, the more narrow-minded he or she becomes.
This makes it harder for the elders to take quickly to technology, especially to computers, smartphones and other communication devices (which don’t only mean faster information-relay but also quicker decisions and a swifter onset of the future). The metaphor doesn’t end with a particular generation: if things continue to move at the pace they are now, our generation could face a similar dilemma when we hit our 50s and, quite possibly, Windows XP becomes obsolete, etc.
All of this means a lifespan of about 70 years is quite merciful because it pulls the plug on the existential agitation of the geriatric mind. Even though some of us may be truly tolerant of a grandparent constantly fretting about (only) the negative implications of a mobile phone, a threshold is imminent beyond which such devices are going to become critically essential for securing a livelihood. After all, such people continue to have a say in the affairs of many joint-families. Therefore, the logical truths that we choose to retain after each interaction with a child of neomodern physics should pertain as much as possible to the quintessence and lesser to the abstracts.
On a slightly different but parallel note: a hypothetical lifespan of 200 years would mean that a human would stop learning at about an age of 150 years, and in such a scenario, death at 200 would seem likely merciful – an argument that renders this article didactic in nature.
- Enlightenment and progress (guardian.co.uk)