Written by Sherry
Wednesday, 20 June 2007 08:24
David Brooks has a witty and disturbing piece over at Godspy about the fruit of popularized genetic engineering.
At this very moment thousands of people are surfing the Web looking for genetic material so their children will be nothing like me.
When given this kind of freedom of choice, people seem to want to produce athletic Aryans with a passion for housekeeping. There is tremendous market demand for DNA from blue-eyed, blond-haired, 6-foot-2 finely sculpted hunks who roast their own coffee. These are the kind of guys you see jogging in the park and nothing moves. They’ve got a stomach, a chest and flanks, but as they bounce along nothing jiggles, not even their hair. They’re like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime from the shoulders down, and Trent Lott from the scalp up.
Nor is brainpower neglected. In a bow to all that is sacred in our culture, one sperm bank has one branch located between Harvard and M.I.T. and the other next to Stanford. An ad in The Harvard Crimson offered $50,000 for an egg from a Harvard woman. A recent ad in the Chicago Maroon at the University of Chicago offered $35,000 for a Chicago egg and stipulated, “You must be very healthy, very intelligent and very attractive, and most of all, very happy. Liberal political views and athletic ability are pluses.”
Except for the height - and the hair - it all sounds distressingly like Fr. Mike, apparently a member of a tribe of mid-western ubermensch to which my clan was not invited.
Back to David Brooks:
In any case, a Harris poll suggested that more than 40 percent of Americans would use genetic engineering to upgrade their children mentally and physically. If you get social acceptance at that level, then everybody has to do it or their kids will be left behind.
Which means that sooner or later reproduction becomes a casting call for “Baywatch” and people like me become an evolutionary dead end. For centuries my ancestors have been hewing peat in Wales and skipping school in Ukraine, but those of us in the low-center-of-gravity community will be left on evolution’s cutting-room floor.
Or in the case of my family, serfdom in Prussia. I've see the 200 plus year old manumission papers.
Of course, the struggle that short men face is similar to the reaction that exceptionally tall women get. Consider what it feels like, as a woman, to be the tallest person in a nation of 260 million people as I seemed to be in Indonesia. Imagine being lost, and on foot, walking through small Muslim villages at a time of Muslim/Christian tension with a frame that simply shrieks "not-of-this-gene-pool-westerner". Imagine the rising anxiety of my Indonesian hosts who were walking with me.
People would ask me if I was Dutch. Being considered "Dutch" in Indonesia was not a compliment since the Dutch had been their colonial overlords for centuries and were not known and loved for their benign ways. There is a Indonesian term for white westerner that is not polite and translates roughly to "white buffalo". That just about summed up how I was feeling. It didn't help to try and explain that I am the smallest and shortest member of my family. We are simply too far out there on the bell curve.
So I have a feeling that exceptionally tall estrogen-based life forms with a familial history of mental illness will not be part of this brave new world either.
As lay apostles called to promote a culture of life, what can we do? Comments?