Most of you probably saw this last week, but Dr. Ezekiel Emmanuel, one of the architects of ObamaCare, is explaining to us that 75 is the ideal age to die.
Did you ever read Isaac Asminov’s “The 60″? It is about a society that throws a big party for each citizen at the age of 60, sends them on a round-the-world tour, and then offs them upon return home. 75 is the new 60.
That’s how long I want to live: 75 years.
This preference drives my daughters crazy. It drives my brothers crazy. My loving friends think I am crazy. They think that I can’t mean what I say; that I haven’t thought clearly about this, because there is so much in the world to see and do. To convince me of my errors, they enumerate the myriad people I know who are over 75 and doing quite well. They are certain that as I get closer to 75, I will push the desired age back to 80, then 85, maybe even 90.
I am sure of my position. Doubtless, death is a loss. It deprives us of experiences and milestones, of time spent with our spouse and children. In short, it deprives us of all the things we value.
But here is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.
By the time I reach 75, I will have lived a complete life. I will have loved and been loved. My children will be grown and in the midst of their own rich lives. I will have seen my grandchildren born and beginning their lives. I will have pursued my life’s projects and made whatever contributions, important or not, I am going to make. And hopefully, I will not have too many mental and physical limitations. Dying at 75 will not be a tragedy. Indeed, I plan to have my memorial service before I die. And I don’t want any crying or wailing, but a warm gathering filled with fun reminiscences, stories of my awkwardness, and celebrations of a good life. After I die, my survivors can have their own memorial service if they want—that is not my business.
That’s the beginning. He makes the argument that as we prolong life, we prolong disability, and who wants that? While I might personally agree with him – I have no desire to be a burden on my kids – I definitely don’t want it to be a matter of policy in any way, shape or form. Who are we to know what another human being wants or can contribute? That is truly none of our business. But that is the way we are headed.