Mr Smith and the Official
Mr Smith, an elderly hippy, is in the office of a S.A.A.W.A.D. official (Successful Aging As Well As Death) to discuss his help in curing aging. Mr Smith wants to die but the official insists Mr Smith has more of life that he can live provided he is willing to accept this opportunity. An ageist parfable by the author of Simon’s Armbands. More
Mr Smith, an elderly hippy, is in the office of a S.A.A.W.A.D. official (Successful Aging As Well As Death) to discuss his help in curing aging. Mr Smith wants to die but the official insists Mr Smith has more of life that he can live provided he is willing to accept this opportunity. An ageist parfable by the author of Simon’s Armbands.
“You are an apostate, my good older man. I cannot believe that after a rich life of career, fatherhood, wealth and good health, you are unwilling to help us in our quest to cure ageing. And you mustn’t associate aging with death Mr. Smith. That notion is fast becoming passé, all thanks to our ingenuity”.
“Death will get YOU one day” the indignant old man replies. “I am old and I want to die. I’ve got too many conflicting shades of memory and my death will be the end of them. I want to move over. There’s too many of us as it is. This planet is crumbling because of us humans and our insatiable needs. There’ll be wars. Terrible wars”.
“Crumble… crumble?” The youngish government official in charge of S.A.A.W.A.D. (Successful Aging As Well As Death) in the Eighth Sector of New Town district slams his fist on his desk. “Death is NOT going to happen to me when I don’t want it; it will happen when aging as a disease is defeated. Look man, I’m here to help you live longer, much longer”.
“I’m eighty nine for Christ’s sake. What do I have to live to 150 for?”
“Well there’s family for a start. Your great, great, great, great, grandchildren will see you in the flesh. You won’t be just a distant name on a plaque or a tombstone”.
“I’ll be withered, demented hippy on a kidney machine. I’ll have a brain the size of a pea. My geriatric bed will be nothing but a coffin lined toilet. That is no life”.
“But by then Mr Smith we will have cured aging. Can’t you see it’ll be you, me, everyone. The greatest disease known to humanity, overcome”.
“There will always be death, damn you”.
“But not from aging my dear fellow. It will be something else, until we find a cure for that”.
“I don’t believe you. If nobody ages then something horrible will happen to keep the human population from getting out of control. Something more horrible than war. Nature will find a way. There’s got to be a balance, otherwise life as we know it will disintegrate. I fear there will be nothing but epidemics, nothing but catastrophes. All because people like you want to live longer”.
“Nature is our constant enemy. We shall overcome Mr Smith. We shall overcome. That’s why we are here. To explore, to conquer, to enslave, to liberate, to steal, to use, to start again. We were all once like starving wolves fighting over rotten carcasses. We just went at it and the hungriest survived. So primal, so uncouth. Now Mr. Smith we are all knowing. And we have the drugs that can solve multitudes of problems, and of course we have research”.
“Humans will probably end up colonising the rest of the universe after they’re done her, and muck that up too! Anyway, what if I don’t want anti aging drugs? What if I want euthanasia instead?”
The official shifts in his chair, stares at Mr Smith sitting opposite and says “You don’t want that Mr. Smith. You’re nowhere near suitable for life release. That would be premature. But if you like we can test you, but just by sitting here you appear well in control of your faculties. By all accounts you had little trouble getting to my sixth floor office here in the left wing of our Panopticon, Mr Smith. But I am a mere official and you have freedom of choice”.