Life Cut Short At 104

What is the purpose of living anyway?

Well, if it’s living long, he certainly did that.  But one gets the impression that if David Goodall, a noted evolutionary botanist and ecologist, had been able to retain his mobility and eyesight, he had much more work to do.  Was his life cut short at 104 years of age?  An answer to that question will be explored a bit more below.

Goodall’s scientific achievements include editorship of a book about THE EVOLUTION OF DESERT BIOTA, a comparison of desert animals and plants living on three continents, and a 30-volume series of books called “ECOSYSTEMS OF THE WORLD.” But after a century of living he said he “hasn’t got anything to live for” and took his own life at a Swiss medical clinic today where euthanasia is legally permitted.

The texts mentioned above were published after his official retirement in 1979, so most of his later years were still productive.

Goodall, who had three wives but lived alone, trekked to work at a university in Perth in a 90-minute bus and train commute up until his final year of life.  A year ago Goodall was asked what keeps him working?  He quipped: “I have nothing much else to do.”  He was limited to editing scientific papers because “I can’t see very well and I can’t walk very well.”

British born, he lived in Australia since 1948.  A CNN report revealed more about Goodall’s years after he officially retired in 1979: Evolution of Desert Biota David W. Goodall Best Price: $9.99 (as of 06:25 EST - Details)

Goodall said that his life stopped being enjoyable “five or 10 years ago,” in part because of his failing mobility and eyesight.

“My life has been out in the field (working), but I can’t go out in the field now,” said Goodall, who needs a wheelchair and walking frame to get around, during an interview at his Basel hotel.

“I would love to be able to walk into the bush again, and see what is all around me,” added the father of four, who during his long life had three wives.

“I could still enjoy birdsong,” he added. “But my lack of vision would seriously impair it.”

Goodall told CNN he would have preferred to have died when he lost his driver’s license in 1998, adding that the loss of independence at 94 was a big moment in his life.

“At my age, I get up in the morning. I eat breakfast. And then I just sit until lunchtime. Then I have a bit of lunch and just sit. What’s the use of that?” said the scientist, who appeared to have lost none of his sense of humor on Tuesday, wearing a top inscribed with the words “Aging Disgracefully.”

He championed the idea of working after retirement age.  In a British newspaper he was quoted to say: “All of us are going to get old and does that mean that we are not expected or wanted to contribute if we can, or just put into nursing homes or forced to have a carer just because we are not as physically able as we used to be?”

Is this all longevinarians have to look forward to?

Is this all longevinarians have to look forward to?  The irony is that three-quarters of the world 7 billion population struggles just to survive.  Seven of ten people globally live on $10 or less a day.  They haven’t time to think about a purpose in life.  Their lives are cut short by malnutrition, infectious disease, accidents, alcoholism, even by a wild animal.

Ending it all

Goodall regretted reaching such old age.  He was quoted to say: “One should be free to choose the death, when death is at an appropriate time. My abilities have been in decline over the past year or two, my eyesight over the past six years. I no longer want to continue life. I’m happy to have the chance tomorrow to end it.” We Already Know How to... Bill Sardi Check Amazon for Pricing.

Now if Goodall chose to end life much earlier it would be called suicide.  He had actually attempted to take his own life three times in the past year.  Rather than wait for natural death, he chose to suffer no longer with his physical infirmities.

If a younger man or woman fall on their own sword for a cause they are called martyrs.  In a sense, Goodall appears to have taken his life for the cause of dying by choice.

Which door do you choose?  Door 1, 2 or 3?

What did Goodall’s life stand for?

Even if Goodall had good eyesight, did he have another meaningless book to edit that few if anyone will read after his death?

An irony is that now Goodall’s major achievement in life seems to have served as a poster boy for the euthanasia movement.

Ah, just what the life insurance companies want, for all of us to die on time.  The same goes for those actuaries at Medicare and Social Security.

And isn’t Goodall as an example of what modern medicine produces?  The last years of life spent in a debilitated state, overmedicated, diapered, confined to a wheelchair and drooling from the mouth?  It’s no wonder most people say they never want to live as long as Goodall.

Are our lives cut short biologically?

Just how much are our lives being cut short biologically?  Science will soon reveal a startling fact: human life is cut short by two-thirds.  Humans have the biological potential to live two to three times longer, from 60-80 years, which is the present human lifespan, to 150-220 years if a single gene can be edited in their body.  And they wouldn’t live with the cataracts, macular degeneration and physical infirmity Goodall suffered in his last decade or two of life.  Then what?

Got to the end and found no purpose to life

A longer life would just give humans more time to fill their emptiness.  I dare to say, Goodall never found a purpose in life.  He just filled the time.  He had the freedom and time and intellect that many others don’t have to search for meaning in life.   He chose the mundane.  Not even Goodall’s writings will live on past him and will likely gather dust in libraries.

Goodall, who embraced evolutionary biology, made no mention of any hope of an after-life.

Since Goodall embraced a worldview that says humans evolved from a primordial soup, I don’t see how he could ever have found a purpose in life.  His life began without purpose, how could it possibly end with one?  For those of us fortunate enough to have the time to ponder a purpose in life, this is our curse.  Most people are just spending time fulfilling their biological destiny, to make babies and marry the kids off and then die.

In pursuit of a purpose in life it may be wise to first consider Pascal’s wager.  I think if a person does pursue a quest to find a purpose in life, they will find it.  It is not beyond comprehension or attainment.  It is this.  We can give up our earthly lives for a purpose rather than leave this life asking as an afterthought — “the purpose of life was what?” The freedom to commit suicide?

Goodall’s last words were comprised of singing a few bars of “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.   A few selected lyrics from that Symphony suggests Goodall, who had three wives, longed for a good one and a Creator he never had time for.

O friends, no more these sounds!
Let us sing more cheerful songs,
more full of joy!

Whoever has created
An abiding friendship,
Or has won
A true and loving wife,
All who can call at least one soul theirs,
Join in our song of praise;

She gave us kisses and the fruit of the vine,
A tried friend to the end.

Do you fall in worship, you millions?
World, do you know your creator?

Seek him in the heavens;
Above the stars must He dwell.

Lyrics in English for “Ode to Joy”
(“Ode An Die Freude”)
Beethoven’s 9th Symphony

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