Up@dawn 2.0

Friday, February 19, 2016

Mastery and Gift

In reading this chapter, I had to disagree with the author in some respects. "In a social world that prizes mastery and control, parenthood is a school for humility." This comment resonated with me, it is incredibly true. I had two beautiful sons and each was incredibly unique, I had no choice in who or what they would be once born. I found deep humility in lessons that I learned from them as they grew, because of who they were and found great truths in their simple comments at times.

My youngest son was born with autism, ADHD, sensory processing disorder and a host of other issues. I will never forget one particular day, after a huge fight with his school in grade school after he had been horribly picked on by a staff member. I got him home and I closed the blinds, I was enraged and so blind with fear...unconsciously, I was trying to protect him from everything outside of our home. He took me hand and opened the blinds, smiling up at me and said, "Don't worry, mommy, they are my friends. They didn't mean it. Look! The sun is shining." That moment changed me forever. My sons are very different human beings than I am and their uniqueness is a gift that I cherish and learn from.

It is the author's assertion that who we are and what we are capable of are gifts and should remain as such, that the social basis of humility would be diminished by genetic self improvement, that I disagree with. The son I mentioned above, was diagnosed in Grade 2. The official diagnosis was PDD NOS, he was pretty atypical. He couldn't read by grade 2, was in a special class, couldn't spend a whole day in school, had no social skills and couldn't stay still or look you in the eye. Outbursts were common. Even eating was problematic, for many years. He was good at math, that was his gift.

I did not give him genetic enhancements, there were none available to me, but I did do something very similar. Unwilling to accept that what he was born with would define his life, I devoted over 10 years solely to him and his brother. I sought out doctors, specialists, drugs, special teachers, tutors, and therapists. If you can name a therapist for these cases, I found one. It was hard, it took an army of devoted professionals and a slew of drugs, plus long days on my part but over time...we figured out how he learned. We changed his environment and then once he was comfortable with it, taught him how to change how he thought and learned ever so slightly so that he could succeed. And he did. He learned to read, he made friends, he got into regular classes and right now..he is finishing his grade 12 year with better grades than most. You'd never know it was the same boy, you'd never know he was disabled.

Did all of these drugs, specialists, teachers and devoted hours change him drastically? Yes. Did it change his natural gifts? Definitely. Did it change his abilities and capabilities? Entirely. It really gave him a huge advantage over others with his diagnosis as well. But, did it make me any less appreciative of his natural gifts or diminish my humility? Not in the least. If anything, I learned an even greater sense of humility. I provided the means by which he could choose to advance his life, but he took it. He worked for it. I do not think I'd feel different if I'd had something implanted into him that helped him overcome obstacles. Let me explain.

My older son was born brilliant beyond words. I'm somehow blessed with a pair of smarty pants. He had nothing to overcome. I was home and never left him out, he was my pride and joy, my best friend. I provided him the same number of opportunities, but in his senior year...he decided that he did not need them. You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. Control is an illusion. He's a great boy and working hard now, but he set himself back. What I'm saying is, you can genetically enhance or cybernetically enhance a person out the ying yang...what you cannot do is make them use them effectively. The gifted are still gifted beyond mere enhancements, they will still make foolish mistakes and get great ideas in their own time.

We should seek to improve ourselves as a species in any way we possibly can. There are gifts and also weights handed us by nature and by life as we grow...we learn humility not from accepting our fates, but from experiencing life and from striving to achieve. Acceptance goes too often, hand in hand, with depression and giving up. We learn great joy in our achievements, sadness in our failures and nothing will take that from us but us.

We do not owe the less fortunate because we won some genetic lottery. I have watched brilliant people waste their lives, great athletes walk away from sports entirely and party instead...the genetic lottery counts for little. I do not believe that this thinking, this winning of some natural lottery, saves us from believing that the rich are rich because they deserve to be. I find that thought ludicrous. Rich people indeed won a form of lottery if they were born to a rich family, but not one I'd particularly like to win. I'd rather get rich on my own, doing what I love, than be raised as a sort of prodigy and grow up in some forced little box to be whatever "fits in" to the family name. I almost pity those born into wealth with names to uphold, I am much luckier to be born free of such bonds. What about those rich who earned their wealth? They certainly deserve it and not due to some unnatural being or some lucky draw. Some rich are rich because they deserve to be and some are not. I do not have to suffer with what I've been handed naturally to see that or to appreciate it. I think it's best perhaps, to simply state, some people are jerks and will judge others regardless of circumstances and how natural we remain has nothing to do with that. Some of us are empathetic, some of us are hard but fair, while others are fence-riders or outright cruel. Very little of that has to with your natural genetics so much as it has to do with environment, learned response, and personality created by experience. Genetic enhancements change none of that unless you actually set out to do just that.

An interesting video on nature vs. nurture (genetics)

And another!

Human Augmentation

1 comment:

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