Friday, March 11, 2011

Unnatural Selection

Since the dawn of man, humans have sought to control nature and to make it bend to our will. Thanks to all the innovations and technology developed by the human race, that has happened – at least in some aspects.
We may not be able to successfully control things like the volcanoes or the weather (heck, we can’t even predict it accurately), and we’re not yet nearing those accomplishments as far as I know. Yet, we have been able to overturn a critical law of nature: evolution by means of natural selection.

I know that my idea here is not original. As a matter of fact, since I’ve recently become a father and others around me having their own babies, the topic of ‘what would you do if something horrible were to happen’ has come up on a few occasions. Personally, it would kill me if something horrible happened to my son (and most parents are on the same page as me), especially at the hands of some other person. But what if that ‘something horrible’ was also ‘something natural’, like an illness or developmental issue? I would still feel terrible, and if at all possible, I would do whatever I could to resolve it, and I don’t fault any other parent who would do the same.

Darwin Ape - Rantomness But therein lies our problem. As a living creature, we’ve developed to protect our young to ensure the continual and successful spreading of our genes. We get attached to our offspring so that we more instinctively give them a better shot at life. In centuries past, and even not so long as that, if a child were to get seriously sick, there is a good chance they would die. What does that mean? It means that natural selection would be taking care of our species and we would be strengthened as a group by cutting loose the weaker of our kin. If you can’t cut it in the wild, then your genes are not qualified to be carried on.

Instead, we have built up a society filled with technology that affords us at least the opportunity to prevent the death of that child, and prolong their life far beyond what nature would have intended. In turn, we are allowing potentially weaker traits of our genome to be carried on and passed on, ultimately weakening the species as a whole.

Moreover, the better medical care is not available worldwide, nor is it available to everyone where it is. If you are fortunate enough to live in a wealthier part of the world, or in some cases if you happen to be wealthy in an destitute part, then you are more able to circumvent these laws of nature and extend your own life or that of those close to you. So it is no longer survival of the fittest, but survival of the most opulent, or even the luckiest.

Bucket-Warning - RantomnessIn addition to the medical advances that make this all possible, the idiocy of some parents is thwarted, allowing for some children to grow up to expand the ever-increasing amount of stupidity of our society. Take bucket warnings or hot coffee/cup labels, for example. If you need someone to tell you that something that is obviously dangerous is obviously dangerous (and there are people out there like that), then maybe you should be allowed to fall victim to your mental shortcomings.

Despite all this, I can’t come to terms with actually accepting the death, or even harm, of my own child, and I don’t expect or want anyone else to, either. As it stands, I think we’re all just stuck with what we’ve got and I hope it won’t make any difference in the long run.

(Does some of this sound like something Hitler would say to you? If so, get your head out of your you-know-what. I’m not saying a specific race or ethnicity doesn’t deserve that extra chance at life, I’m saying those individuals with natural weaknesses, however those weaknesses can be defined, should not necessarily be kept alive contrary to the natural order of things.)

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