Monday, September 29, 2008

Why Do Humans Age?

Repost of June 12, 2006
I know this repost is over 2 years old but something made me want to put it up again.  If you can keep from yawning lol please try and read each word, it's important if only because it seems such a mystery.   
 
Why Do Humans Age? 
 
 Nature certainly has it all fixed, I'd say.  No matter what we do, our genetic blueprint will dictate what happens to us and when.  Which gives me pause to think:  Insects, especially bees, ants, they all die soon after procreating.  It's their main purpose.  In fact, all animals seem to have that purpose, to reproduce for as long as possible, then quickly die.  They don't hang around in that limbo called "old age".  Not like the human animal, who can choose whether or not to have young, and can even choose how they age.  Humans are the only mammals who grow into older age for no natural reason (you have to be coldly analytical here) and contribute nothing of obviated substance to the commune.  I know, it rings of the icy logic of nature.  But is it true?  Once we have children, and they are sufficiently weaned from us, why do we continue living?  What force of nature keeps us alive into our 70's, 80's?  It's not an inviting life, either.  Like other mammals we're prone to bone loss, heart disease, cancerous cells, a plethora of illnesses which cost us dearly, emotionally, financially, spiritually.  So why do we age, while other species never do?

The elephant, now there's a similar example of growing old for no viable reason, and yet there's a very good reason, which I discovered.  It takes almost 3 years for the baby elephant to gestate, and if it's female, remains with its mother for the rest of her life, having babies of her own.  The male is rarely tolerated and must leave the herd when fulled weaned, going off to find his fortune, perhaps starting his own herd.  The elephant lives a long time in comparison, over 70 years, well past the time to procreate.  So why does it live on?  In studying these wondrous creatures it's found that the aged and elder of the herd are always the decision-makers, the keepers of the health of the commune by not allowing rogue elephants to mate with the females.  They preserve the viability of the genetic health of the herd.  They lead the young to water, when none can be found.  They show the young where to migrate for the best grasses.  They teach the ways of fending off predators, and in their numbers they form a true family bond, eagerly followed by the young.  So the elephant world has a use for its elder members.  Why don't we seem to?  Why are others different?

Look to the ape family, the closest to our own species.  When a female is past the age of bearing young, she is tolerated for a short time by the pack, but only by her relatives, then left to fend on her own.  Ignored and left out of special feedings when meat is available, she soon starves or dies of protein loss, disease.  Yes, apes eat meat on occasion, usually monkeys.  But the point is, once you can no longer give anything of import to the pack, you're considered a burden, and because you're older you are susceptible to all the illnesses we humans are, including SIV, the simian form of HIV.  None of the wisdom you may've collected in your life is of any use, since nature sees with its cold icy eye that having you around is more trouble than not.  Is this starting to sound a bit familiar?

The human animal ages if allowed to live healthy, born without disease, and lives in the proper nurturing environs.  In aging, we acquire illness and disease making it a burden for us to live, and for others to care for us.  The total wisdom collected in our lives is rarely respected, if even tolerated.  And yet, the Asian people see their elderly as honored living treasures, and treat them accordingly!  What's wrong here in the west, why do we fear aging so?  Perhaps because it's the harbinger of death, and that's a state we can only hope is not some oblivion, since we have no proof at all that our molecules won't dissipate into the atmosphere when our bodies decay.  We cling to our faith in a Special Being, a God, who will welcome us ("us"? who will we be when we die though?) yet it's easier to believe than not to.  We know in our hearts there's a chance our Judeo-Christian God may not be what we imagine, and the afterlife is something so alien to how we think now that it's just unimaginable, using the limited brain power we have.  This tableau frightens many into offering prayer to something they don't really believe in but would rather not chance the prospect of oblivion, so they believe in what they're told is true.  

This can have nothing to do with religion, it's about the cold, clear waters of science and nature.  Belief in God is something that comes from the spirit or soul, and we choose to believe because it comforts us.  No matter how many times I believe I'm speaking to God, meditate on what He is, I cannot explain Him.  But I understand nature and can explain that, still it puzzles me why nature allows the human to continue on into old age if for no other reason than we can.  People live so much longer now, is that natural?  Hasn't anyone noticed how many humans are on this planet compared to other species?  It's not a question of having enough resources for us all, it's more that our numbers are out of proportion.  And in that regard, what about habitat?  Most animals require a certain amount of space to live a normal, healthy life.  Except humans, who demand the whole planet as their habitat, and not content with that have propelled our bodies far into space, to explore other worlds.  I know of no other creature who only truly needs a small amount of space to live but demands all of the planet and then some.  We even rob the habitats of other species to use for ourselves, and end up misusing that space by trying to farm it.  Why would such a life form be allowed to procreate at will, take up all the space they can buy or steal, and the big question, live for such a long, long time?  I feel in my bones that nature will win out in this question, and someday humans may be confronted with the hard fact that, as a species, we may not be as successful as we think, after all.

 

18 comments:

jeanno43 said...

All the time things are coming to an end.  Every year more and more animals and plant species become extinct just like the dinosaurs but on a much faster scale.  No doubt mankind will one day join them unless we colonise another planet.

http://journals.aol.co.uk/jeanno43/JeannettesJottings/

xxroxymamaxx said...

Very good question!!!  And answers??  : )

lanurseprn said...

Hey Cathy, haven't been over here in awhile. I've been behind with everyone! This is an interesting entry....I liked reading it.
I'll try to keep up with you much better.
Pam

ksquester said...

WOW............that is a lot to think about.   Anne

sybilsybil45 said...

Well that is something for us all to think about...I have no idea what the answers could be though....one day...all will be clear ....of that I am sure.  Love Sybil xx

http://journals.aol.co.uk/sybilsybil45/villagelife/

wwfbison said...

I agree with you and have said to those close to me that nature will be the final victor.  I find it interesting that people used to live to the ripe old age of 40, now it is double that or more thanks to the medications and procedures available.  So it is man who is keepin man alive well beyond their use.  Thought provoking as usual.
xx
Lisa

laineygthatsme said...

That poses a few problems for my mind: When you say nature has it all fixed and humans can chose how they age and are the only mammals who grow in age for no natural reason yet point out the case of elephants who to you do have a reason and similar to a extent with that of  apes. What force of nature keeps us alive you pose without asking are you talking about a biological force? What do you actually mean by nature?  This nature sees that having the aged around is more trouble than not whilst those in the east treat their aged with honoured living treasures, does not sound like any scientific basis for these polarities. You explore religious belief, in which you cannot explain and then extol that it is science and nature which is paramount and you understanding nature leave it with another question why does nature leave us to age just for the sake of why it can?

Yes, I firmly belief that people are living longer and that is as natural as any other answer; mine being the advancement of medical science and technology as it exists today. I have noticed how many people are on this planet but comparing that to the 140 trillion bees that gather in hills in Tibet belies us in exploiting our habitat rather than their honey which feeds their natives. The fact that the human species is and has been the most successful of all the species must ask questions of your summary. Have you ever pondered time? We all know the saying that time is a great healer and I would like you to ponder a little further that not only it is that, but can be that natural destroyer you seem to exclude from you argument.

luddie343 said...

Interesting premise, I'll definitely be more inclusive as to "time" in my pondering of this - I'll email, thanks for this viewpoint!  

krmprm said...

There is order in nature, the natural progression
or aging, and certain laws such as "survival of
the fittest".  The journey of the soul is not
natural, it is supernatural.  A born-again
Christian experience, a personal encounter with
the Creator, the Almighty Trinity, is necessary
in order to know that you know that you........
When you know,  there is no conflict between
science and religion that cannot be resolved.

treesrgreen78 said...

Very intersting entry.  As for aging of humans past most animals, I know that I am aging and my bones creaking just so I can keep getting my child out of messes, lmao.  Seriously, though, I feel that we too, as humans, whether we are ancient or just at the time of elderly, can teach the young a great deal.  I remember my grandmother and all the good things she told me and taught me.  I am very glad she lived to be nearly 82, without the knowledge she gave me I would me a much lesser human being.

jmorancoyle said...

    I've thought about this. And I think you're right when you say, "I feel in my bones that nature will win out in this question, and someday humans may be confronted with the hard fact that, as a species, we may not be as successful as we think, after all." I call it natural selection. Just because someone said we can 'think', doesn't mean that we aren't prone to pay for our blunders. As usual, a very thought provoking entry.
Jude
http://journals.aol.com/jmorancoyle/MyWay

gazker said...

As I read the first few lines I thought, wow, I'm gay, so will live for ever. Then I caught sight of myself in my hotel room in my undies and socks........ Not so!
Gaz ;-)

queensw33tie said...

I was reading an article that a scientist wrote last night. He is working on some kind of anti-aging project. He said that he'll eventualy (in about 25 years)  be able to double the human's life.

*M*

chrispar72 said...

http://brainwhispers.blogspot.com/
cough!
x

ladymagnolia1963 said...

Hi,

I just wanted to pop in and let you know about my new journal at Blogger.

If you have one or will start making another please let me know where you are so that I can keep in touch Ü.

Well the count down has begun. I wanted to make sure all the journals I have as my favorites gets my new url. My journal here was called "LadyMagnolia's Daily Blog."

My NEW on is called Dear Diary it's me~Donna
http://deardiaryitsmedonna.blogspot.com/
E-Mail: LadyMagnolia1963@aol.com
HUGS~Donna

queensw33tie said...

Luddie, AOL is shutting down!
Here is my new journal:
http://learningtoadapt.blogspot.com/

Please stop by okay? I've been reading you for a very long time now and I hope you decide to move to Blogger with us!

*M*

Tressa Bailey said...

I dunno...you raise a lot of interesting questions there. I was fortunate to be raised in a family descended from native americans...We value our aged too, we understand their purpose is to teach and to remember so that we young will not forget when it is our time. Oddly enough the young are honored for their innate wisdom as well. Children are shown the same respect as adults when it comes to having opinions or beliefs. I've had some weird looks from people who couldn't believe my very young children (at that time) were comfortable discussing politics and world affairs. You'd be surprised at their insight. No one can cut through the BS faster than a 4 year old.

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