If I were to tell you the United States has an imperfect history, then you might raise your eyebrows and stop reading my today’s editorial. But, keep an open mind and hear me out: every step, every little phase our evolution went through… led us to the present moment. If we don’t know ourselves at our best and our worst, we can’t function as a society and commonly or individually progress. Therefore, when looking to the future… ask yourselves: How can I contribute to our evolution? What is my gift to the world and future generations? What am I living for?
I provoke you to hold your judgmental horses today.
We have chapters of slavery, the decimation of Native American populations and atrocities committed during various wars. Yet, these obvious facts are not the ones that concern me today. Let’s talk about a rather obscure long-term phenomenon: eugenics.
“Eugenics” refers to the belief that the qualities of the human species should be improved by controlled reproduction. This means that persons having genetic defects or inheritable undesirable traits should not reproduce. Meanwhile those with desirable traits should receive advantages in order to have babies.
This is exactly what Hitler was doing, promoting, through Nazism, the Aryan race. Which translated into killing the disabled, sick, poor and old. In return, they promoted the strong, healthy, blonde ideal individual, as characteristic for the German perfect society evolution.
The perfect species and the US.
In early 1900’s, prominent biologist Charles Davenport and former teacher Harry Laughlin started creating the perfect species in the US.
They researched and focused on the inheritance of undesirable traits, such as pauperism, mental disability dwarfism, promiscuity and criminality. Members of the American Eugenics Society (1926) became interested in concepts such as a fitter family or a better baby. They also participated in competitions and exhibitions promoting such values.
Between 1927 and 1929, the society promoted eugenical sterilization. This also meant regulating immigration and discouraging interracial procreation.
In 1917, the Oregon State Legislature, in Salem, passed a bill titled To Prevent Procreation of Certain Classes in Oregon. Based on it, over 2,600 Oregon residents were subject of forced sterilization between 1917 and 1981.
Eugenics in Pop Culture.
After World War II, eugenics appeared in movies as a product of mad scientists, resembling the Nazi, who tried to create super soldiers.
In the 1950s and 1960s, more low budget movies talked about how radiation from atomic bomb testing could degrade the human DNA.
The 1960s, Star Trek television series presents Captain Kirk often meeting with superior beings – like the Organians – who looked down to humanity as a less evolved race.
British show Doctor Who’s most infamous villains are the Daleks, who are obsessed with racial purity and extermination of those different.
Blade Runner, which appeared in 1982, focuses on a race of genetically engineered people, Replicants, with superior abilities.
Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, published in 1931, features babies born in hatcheries, to fit a specific role in the society.
Not that far from the movies, we return to medicine.
In the 1990s, scientists started to map the human gene.
Magazine Foreign Policy asked several thinkers to name the “greatest threat to the welfare of humanity”. Francis Fukuyama, professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, picked transhumanism – yet another term depicting the elimination of some human traits and the enhancement of others.
Genetic alteration is now possible, cloned animals became real and genetic engineering is still generating controversies… and, yet, we return to basics. And the basics are those that hurt us personally and as a society the most. These are issues that concern peace, stability and access to resources. But decision factors are sometimes completely blind to them.
“All men are created equal” – US Declaration of Independence.
What gives some the right to govern over others and impose their will? To say what is good and what is wrong? Is there an universal reference system? To what right should we modify life as we know it?
I urge you to stop playing God! Return to the values that we know, to the natural, the simple ways, the most peaceful solutions we have. Study, learn, accept, and only then see how you can adapt. Don’t modify just for science’s sake! It’s painful, you can’t know where this will lead us to. You could create gaps between individuals, therefore repeat stories of the past and some will be suffering.
So stop, rewind and rethink!
You carry with you the legacy your ancestors left you… each day of your life. And, each single day, you are also responsible for your acts that affect not only the present, but also the life of your children.
Beware and keep your good heart!