Saturday, April 25, 2015
Eugenics: Then and Now
The idea of Eugenics became increasingly popular in the late 1800s into the early 1900s. The idea that humans could create the perfect society free of disabilities and diseases was appealing to a great deal of people; in fact the term eugenics comes from the Greek roots for “good” and “generation.”
People tended to think that they were paving the path to a brighter future, and the benefits of eugenics far outweighed the costs. That is, until people saw how far some were willing to take it. Hitler’s eugenics program is the reason why the word “eugenics” has such a bad reputation. Instead of simply trying to remove disease, and any imperfections within society, Hitler was attempting to create the “Master Race,” which involved weeding out anyone and everyone that did not meet the standards that Hitler set.
Hitler would stop at nothing to create the perfect race of humans, and that eventually led to the deaths of over six million people. What Hitler was doing was obviously morally wrong, but does that make eugenics morally wrong? Hitler’s idea of eugenics involved sterilization, euthanasia, and even cold blooded murder a large portion of the time; but eugenics does not necessarily have to be so extreme.
Eugenics takes place in our society today in the form of genetic screening. Although it has not been applied on a large scale, or required by any means, it is becoming more prevalent in the world, and especially in the United States. However, this does not involve sterilizing, or killing anyone, so it is heavily preferred over Hitler’s methods.
How long this version of Eugenics lasts honestly boils down to two questions:
1. How far are people willing to take it?
2. What is deemed socially acceptable?
Our methods are not directly hurting anyone, so people are generally satisfied with the idea, but do we know the consequences of our actions? Are we prepared to deal with the consequences of our actions if there are any? Could genetic screening lead to something better or worse? It wasn’t until years after people were using eugenics that they realized that it is not morally acceptable so really, only time will tell.