We have the technology…
To overcome the natural randomness that we as a race know as reproduction. But does that mean we should use it?
As the human story rolls on, we are beginning to understand the secrets behind our own genetics. This leverages an opportunity to manipulate our traits and genes. In short, we can control a child’s features.
It is painfully simple to understand the basics behind this process. Just mix and match DNA in a dish until you come up with 23 optimal chromosomes. Inseminate the woman, and boom. You’ve got yourself a baby menu. Something you can use to select the perfect traits for your brand new son or daughter.
Male. Tall. Athletic. Smart. Social.
Female. Blond. Attractive. Smart. Musical.
All these traits can be in your perfect offspring, if the price is right. I firmly believe that if genetic engineering in this form was legal, that we’d already be dealing with genetically enhanced children functioning in society.
So what happens if and when we allow this type of technology in our society? Several things will happen.
It will provide an unfair advantage for these special children.
We as a society are just now getting comfortable finding productive places for the people that don’t measure up to everyone else physically or mentally. Heck, even I often feel challenged simply because I can be a little slow to grasp something or I’m not nearly as athletic as most. I can only imagine what people with real disorders must face.
Customized children would immediately shift the playing field. Suddenly these children would be at the top of the list to get jobs. Being genetically enhanced would be a requirement for the most prestigious positions.
Imagine working hard and going to school for eight years to get your doctorate. Suddenly the person beside you reveals that he did it in four. What’s more, he’s already got a position with one of the most recognized businesses in America.
It will create an even greater divide between the poor and the rich.
This would be a real problem with American society. I’m all for capitalism, but genetic engineering is taking it too far.
This procedure is doubtless very expensive, and only the richest could afford it. This would allow the rich to only get richer. It would force the poor to remain in low paying jobs that only normal people could be qualified for. This would do more than just reinforce American governmental values. It would fracture America.
Discrimination will be a serious problem.
We are a species that passionately loves to tell the difference in things. Let me give you the short list.
Race, gender, age, sexuality, religion, geographic location, income level, physical features, tattoos and piercings, even favorite sports teams.
Genetic enhancement will be at the front of that list. It will influence a person’s social status, their income level, and whether they’ll get a political position.
How do you craft a soul?
I will argue that people have a soul until I’m blue in the face. Why? Well, why do most people argue about something. Typically it’s because they are slightly insecure about something. So I guess that makes me slightly insecure that there’s some component of a life that transcends the physical universe and exists in eternity. A soul, in short.
But whether a soul exists or not, the question must be addressed: are these people really human? If something as simple as a laboratory can create a life, does it really count as consciousness?
What to do? What to do?
There are some very good uses for genetic research. I’ve heard of scientists using a persons own cells to regrow lost limbs. I’ve heard of children being cured of infancy diseases. I’ve even heard of treatments for cancer based on genetic research.
But just because we have the capability to do something doesn’t mean it needs to be done. This is too much power. We never need to be able to allow a person to pick and choose that characteristics of his or her offspring. We never need to grow children beyond the natural birthing process.
Use these technologies to cure disease and make the world a more wonderful place, yes, but don’t mess with order. Let people be people.
We can still travel forward as a society without checking out every attractive looking town we see along the way. With the city of Baby Menus, it’s probably best if we just move right along.
[Thanks Myra Boulware for suggesting this topic!]