Wednesday, November 16, 2005

as I was saying...

People ask me all the time if I'm happy to be back in the US. I grew up here, had a happy childhood, but like all youngsters was quite oblivious to any concept or issue beyond the next day's baseball game or the following Monday's chemistry test.

Like these stupid parakeets my brother sent me - he's allergic to feathers or guano or chirping - the world consists in what goes on in their cage. If there's water, toys, seed... oh yeah, and that mirror. They love that freaking mirror. That's what a kid is like, a parakeet in his cage, seeing only a very minute part of reality, basically unconcerned with anything that doesn't enter his own little sphere.

Anyway, I spent practically the next 25 years outside the country I grew up in. Except for a brief interval, during which I was inside the safe confines of the seminary walls, I was speaking a language not my own, dealing with people very different from the folks back home and learning to see the world from perspectives other than the 'made-in-USA' vision of reality.

Am I happy to be back in the USA? Truthfully, I am not.

I enjoy the commodities, the abundance and the relative ease with which we move around in this country. I even appreciate the appearance of freedom which we flaunt as if it were the real thing. Certainly, I prefer this set up to living in a police state or under some murderous regime. The people here have been, generally, good to me. I can't complain.

But the question was not: do you feel mistreated? or, do you feel your life is in danger? or even, do you think there are worse places to live?

I am not happy here. I wonder if anyone is truly happy here. I suspect we have made happiness impossible for ourselves.

More on this depressing line of thought later.

About the NYTimes article I posted the other day and never commented on...

Earlier embryonic testing will increase the possibility of detecting Down Syndrome in the unborn. That, states the article, will be extremely helpful in assisting couples with the decision whether to abort or not.

There was another news item recently that insinuated that the decline in the number of children born with cystic fibrosis is due, not to advances in eradicating the disease, but to earlier detection in the unborn resulting in increased abortion of children at risk.

Did you ever see the Spielberg sci-fi flick Minority Report? It popped into my mind while reading these articles about eugenic sifting. In the movie humans were punished before the crimes they were forseen to commit. In reality, humans are now being eliminated before they commit the crime of being born 'imperfect'. They will - possibly - be born with a low 'quality of life' and, more disturbingly, cramp the style of their parents who had every 'right' to expect a flawless product when they bought into this whole procreation deal.

I guess we're just getting too sophisticated for our own good. When we start weeding out the 'defective', we're well on the way to a society of perfect, beautiful people. Like Paris Hilton and George Clooney.

Boy, that's something to look forward to.