By Andy Berry
This is a tale of two little people (John and Edna) as they wait for big people (who we'll call Politicians, Doctors and Professionals) to decide their future.
They are waiting in separate Petri dishes for John is a sperm and Edna is an egg.
Nearby, their parents are waiting anxiously to be told by the big people whether John and Edna are to be given the chance to fuse and live happily or whether they will be 'disposed of' and two more little people tested.
Their parents have dreams for their child. Mum wants a beautiful child who will become a movie star; Dad wants a brainy child who will follow him into the family business.
At home, the grandparents are also anxiously waiting the results of this trip to the hospital. They also have dreams: of a young grandchild who will amuse them and then grow up into a caring person who will visit them as they get older.
In another room, there are some anxious big people. They know something awkward - that the child who John and Edna will become may turn out to be disabled. They aren't sure - so they've just ordered more tests. Of course, in real life, they'd just say 'oh dear' and hurry on to the next patient, but let's pretend that we live in a world where everybody is given a chance to show what they can do.
In another city, unknown to John, Edna or anyone else in this story, the CEO of Mega Inc is meeting her political lobbyist. "Look, Jim, we need more programmers so let's try and persuade the government to encourage the selection of people who we can more easily train. That will increase our profit by 0.13%" "But, Jenny, that will be difficult as the government has said that it can't favour one business over another." "Yep, but you can say that people who make good programmers also make good police officers (according to the research we sponsored) and we know that that's a popular policy."
All this time, John and Edna are waiting patiently…
In a government office, another big person is meeting some slightly smaller people. 'We need more army recruits so we need to encourage people to produce more disciplined children. According to this secret research, that requires the chromosome X19 to have a G123 sequence.' 'But, Minister, that also predisposes the individual to an increase in heart disease after 60'. [For the sake of decency, the rest of this conversation has been edited]
In a University in another country, an academic is thinking… He's realised that of all the great achievers in the history of mankind, none have been genetically programmed. He's wondering: 'What are the long-term implications? Are we starting something without understanding what we are doing?'
John and Edna are starting to tire of all this waiting… 'Why don't the big people just let us get on and see what happens? Why don't the big people value diversity, support us all and let us develop as we want? Why is there this control mentality?'
In a small room, far away, an 18-year old is dreaming. Dreaming of a world that he controls and where everybody is either exactly like him (well, almost, but they must be just a little smaller, of course) or where they obey his every command.
While all this is happening, John and Edna are getting very tired indeed. So tired that one of them dies…
This is very sad. Especially as:
I ask you: Who's to know what the future holds? Who's to know what society may need in the future? Is genetic selection, with its unknown consequences, worth the risk? How about aiming for a lively, truly diverse society that is moving towards valuing every individual?
I'm really keen to hear what you think of this. Please email any comments to: email@example.com