How long should we live?

We need to be ok with the fact that humans die. It’s a key part of being alive and there is a point at which trying to delay death becomes cruel, painful and unjustifiable. 

I’m very much in favour of preventing disease, preventing accidents and enabling people to live peacefully and well. I’d like to see far more investment in both research and education to support health and wellbeing. 

I feel strongly that anyone who is alive should have the right to a decent amount of life in as good a state of health as possible. In reality, your quality of life and healthcare will most likely have everything to do with your economic wealth. So when we’re talking about interventions that ‘save’ lives we’re often talking about extending the lives of privileged people who already have better than average life expectancies. Unhoused people have far lower life expectancies than housed people in the same societies but this seldom comes up around conversations about saving lives.

I don’t have any definitive answers here, not least because I think what’s really needed is to ask questions. We need to each ask ourselves about the lives and deaths we want for ourselves and for other people. 

How long do we expect to live? For much of human history, life expectancy was about thirty.

What conditions are we prepared to live in? We may not know the answer to that until we get into difficulty, but we should keep asking anyway.

Why do we treat some lives as disposable, yet are willing to go to great lengths to keep other people alive for as long as possible?

In what circumstances would we consider death a kindness?

How do we feel about life before death? How do we consider or contribute to quality of life for those around us and those we impact on?

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

6 responses to “How long should we live?

  • tinderness

    These are plenty of questions, we really do need to give an answer to. As death is part of life and life the prelusium to dying (maybe). Thanks for reminding us.

  • OrderInTheQuartz

    Good questions, and conversations we need to be having far more often! Not long ago, I read “The Art of Dying Well: A Practical Guide to a Good End of Life” by Katy Butler and found it eye-opening. For the more spiritual side, I think “Final Gifts” by Callanan and Kelley is absolutely essential… that’s the book that really helped me understand and be present for my father at his end of life.

  • Tanishq Abhi Gupta

    WOW! That’s some profound post I’ve interacted in a while.
    I’ll state my views with this short example: I’m from middle east(India). 10 days ago there was this news of a graphic designer(28 years old) succumbed to lung contraction disease. Going through full article, I got to know that his illness was discovered a year ago. However, that family was unable to collect 60 lakhs INR(81k usd) which was required for treatment. His father wrote a letter to chief minister(state cm) & requested for Active euthanasia. He didn’t get a reply & trust me that person died a painful & horrible death in a local hospital.

    My point is that, living is merely a choice.
    Some people receives better treatment becoz they own much more resources than others.
    However, when covid was at its peak, I heard many old people gave up the ventilators for younger ones.
    Those wo don’t fit in the purpose of powerful people will find themselves among decomposed waste. That’s the harsh truth.

  • celticchick

    I think quality of life should be the most important factor here.

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