I was prompted to create a story that forces us to abandon the principle—that ostensible principle we advance, at least—of equality under the law. It's a benchmark which has served our needs for the progress of society to this point through—once again, ostensibly—fair governance. And then there is a footnote in recorded history that a good number of people believe, which marks a point when humanity had been clearly divided into two separate classes with vastly different privileges and benefits. Humans who had been recorded to live for centuries, suddenly had their lives truncated down to 120 years. How, in the transition of such a thing, would a society possibly govern?
And so that led me to telling this story. The 120 year benchmark was simply to form that juxtaposition in the reader's mind, but there is nothing supernatural going on here. But for it all to work, I needed a clear division between all of humanity, such that there are people who reap far greater benefits than others, or as well, suffer far greater evils than others, according to their natural condition. These two classes would have to come to some decisions about what this equality actually means at that point. The world need here is simply to find the logical breaking point where the two classes could no longer realistically be treated as equals; because laws for one class would be abusive to the other class, and vice versa, by the very nature of the classes. And so this is the scenario I came up with to split humanity.
A virus strikes humanity but its only effect is to bind a receptor in our DNA which unlocks a 120 year human life expectancy, oddly like what was promised in Genesis 6:3, but not actually connected.
However, some are immune
A large section of humanity are immune to the virus and maintain ≈ 80 year life span. The difference is noticed by 2035, that tens of thousands of humans are now entering their 105th year, and remaining healthy. It is noticed that the group tends to represent family lines, and the ages reached have far surpassed their forbears. Studying the centenarians, we discover the virus in all of them, and not in people dying of natural causes before 100.
At the time of the story, an age limit is not known, however there are clearly a large set of humans who are living past 105, and a large group who have historically normal lifespans.
The such-and-such law
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights." ~ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art. I
Governments have no choice but to look at their budgets and try to provide for “seniors” who collect benefits an extra 25 years average, but without knowing when it will end.
Q: How long will laws be able to treat all humans equally?
At what point (in budgetary % is fine) would laws be forced to treat humans with the Methuselahs virus with different laws, or grant special protections for one group over the other based on having a virus?
Note: No pandemic will wall itself in to one country, and to try to make any useful story of such a thing would be impossible. Think "World War Z." Putting the crisis into a national box leaves everyone just saying, "You silly! Just move to... " or "Go get help from... " Thus, the story only works if we're all in the same boat. Sure, we all live in different boats. But not really (UN/WHO/HRC/...)
|Story-based votes note:|
|Please consult (Why is my question "Too Story Based" and how do I get it opened? before assuming this is "story based.") as this has story elements to help your answer. However this is a textbook on-topic world-building question of the form: "What could cause a government to pass such-and-such law given these societal conditions."
I thank you for your patience :)