Compassion versus Pragmatism

So. I haven’t posted since July? Where does the time go?

Oh right.

Skyrim.

It goes to Skyrim.

Well, I have a fun topic tonight. Iceland’s sort-of-ethnic-cleansing-but-not-technically-ethnic-cleansing of fetuses with Down Syndrome.

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Super fun stuff (Lumi said facetiously).

Yes it’s horrible, and yes, we should probably condemn it, but on the other hand, the technique works. And it’s got a long history of doing so. It’s essentially the core of what Eugenics was all about: controlled breeding of humans the way we do with cats, dogs, sheep, geese, and all sorts of animals allowing us to prioritize stronger genetics and weeding out over multiple generations the most problematic genes, increasing the viability of the total stock as a whole. On paper, it makes sense. Logically, it makes sense. Theoretically, it’s all about making a better human race according to the oldest and most effective means we’ve ever devised.

Eugenics has a bum rap today, but when people like Margaret Sanger and Adolf Hitler are very vocal fans of something… yeah. Bad reputations will happen. And it deprives freedom of choice to those it culls or sterilizes, which is a big no-no in modern Western Society for damn good reasons. Worst of all, as Adolf Hitler showed, when your government puts Eugenics on a pedestal, things can go to shit with alarming speed. It’s no small wonder that people have been making Nazi comparisons during the run of this program from its inception.

So what’s the breakdown on this issue?

Playing the Devil’s Advocate: it’s a relatively low-cost solution of eliminating birth defects in future generations with the highest success rate of any sort of method of preventative measures in world history. This is absolutely not to say that it’s morally right, but the cold logic and math does work out. After all, one can hardly deny that you can’t have Down Syndrome anymore if there are no potential vectors to pass it on.

The moral question is: does one choose a world of mercy –in which these sorts of disorders will persist for the foreseeable future and have MASSIVE impacts on the afflicted that will affect them every day of their life– or, do we make the very ugly and cruel but a very pragmatic decision and eliminate it in the only way we currently can, and possibly snuff out future contributions that might change the world forever, and for the better?

How societies answer this question is important for a whole host of reasons, both economical and moral.

Iceland has come to the decision that individuals with Down Syndrome represent too great a risk to maintain, and they’ve done some serious math before coming to that conclusion. Ultimately, they’ve concluded that DS citizens are too big a drain on families and social support networks and have decided, essentially, to “cut the head off the snake”, as it were.

In America, most families would beg to differ with that approach. There are many cases that show that DS individuals can go on to become fully independent and lead very productive, satisfying, and dare I say it, HAPPY lives. Iceland would argue that these are exceptions in defiance of the math, in defiance of the “rule”. Mathematically, it is even likely they are correct. But just because a thing is mathematically correct does not equate to moral correctness.

Sadly, no proper cure exists, though I continue to hope that politicians and special interest groups will unfetter the Geneticists constantly searching for one. Perhaps a cure that does not equate to genetic cleansing, Spartan style, will emerge within our lifetimes. I hope it does, because that will finally mean the end of this ugly question of morals vs pragmatism… at least on this topic. We are finally at a point where “kill all the sick people” no longer needs to be our best option. The gods gave us these phenomenal minds and intellects. They also gave us unbelievable potential for compassion. So let’s put all that to good use. Let’s solve this problem in a way that moves everyone forward and doesn’t come at someone else’s expense.

And who knows? Maybe, just maybe, someone with Down Syndrome will be responsible for that cure. Maybe.

We can always hope.

This is a very deep topic, and there’s a lot of interesting and/or valuable opinions on it, so I am genuinely interested in hearing what you have to say on this. Drop a comment below, and I’d love to discuss the matter further. Is there a silver lining to this? Is it uniformly and altogether evil? History will make its own judgments as it always does, but I’m pretty sure we already know where we stand on this now, so let’s talk!

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Some thoughts should only ever be thoughts

So I had an altercation with a family member.

The nasty verbally-violent “I hate your guts” type.

It wasn’t pretty.

Things were said that neither of us (I’m sure. I hope.) really meant or are particularly proud of. And it was bad enough that my subconscious actually dredged up some cathartic murder fantasies. About a family member that, fights aside, I love very much and want very much to remain alive. Yeah. The Id is an absolute bastard.

There’s a place for thoughts and fantasy. It’s in your head. Let the fantasy take you somewhere in your head that is cathartic and relieving — that’s why your subconscious brings them forward to the conscious mind in the first place, after all. But no matter how sweet the Id’s whispers, don’t ever bring a finger of harm to someone else unless they are already trying to hurt you.

If there’s one  thing that my time studying the myths and legends of the Norse has taught me, it’s that the price of blood is always steep, and that kinslayers never end up in a good way. Never-goddamn-ever.

There’s a place for these kinds of thoughts, and it’s in your head.

Exclusively.

Some thoughts should just be thoughts.

This has been a brief update and murky window into my life masquerading as a PSA.

Gods guide you.

David Bowie has passed away and there will never be another like him

The New Moon is a time of change, often painful. It’s a threshold whereby things will never be the same once crossed over. I’ve described it in the past on this blog as being akin to like a snake shedding its skin.

The New Moon that met the newly born year of 2016 ended up being just such a one, for David Bowie passed from this world just as the New Moon ended. I’m at a loss to see how this change is like my usual analogy of a shedding snake. Yes, this is painful, but not more beautiful. If anything, the world feels like it’s an uglier place without David.

Passed away at 69, Bowie is a man who left his mark on music, leaving behind “27 studio albums, 9 live albums, 46 compilation albums, 5 extended plays (EPs), 111 singles, including 5 UK number one singles, and 3 soundtracks. Bowie also released 13 video albums and 51 music videos”, according to Wikipedia, which goes on to point out that “Bowie released his final album, Blackstar on 8 January 2016, his 69th birthday and two days before his death on 10 January”. This was a man who suffered through cancer and beat it.

“But he lost!” you might say, “It killed him!”

No, he beat it. Death will eventually take us all. Even the gods are not immune to it, so to think that we can try to escape it is laughable, a joke with not much humor behind it. David Bowie however was a man who gleefully drowned himself in the creative waters of the Human Race over and over again, stalwartly refusing to die young, as if to say “I can’t die yet. Not now, not here. I still have more ideas, and more music, and I won’t leave until it’s all out there.”

Artists dying young is the norm, bringing to mind Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Amy Winehouse, and all the other members of the so-called “27 Club”: a collection of tragic losses of talent before the age of 30.

Bowie beat the odds. He beat the odds, after pushing boundaries and living fast and rough through the 60’s and 70’s – a time where pushing boundaries and living fast and rough was even faster and rougher than we think of today – eventually kicking the drugs, and hitting the straight and narrow again while never losing that “weird” edge that is so iconic to his legacy and so inspirational to so many of us today. He beat the odds, and he beat them while battling cancer.

That’s no loss. If anything, it’s one of the greatest victories any man can strive for. He died doing what he lived for: getting one last album, one last song, out for the world to enjoy.

I know people who aren’t fond of Bowie’s music; none of his 52 years of music will do for them. But to call him any less than a music legend is a disservice to the art he has produced, the people he has inspired, and the lives he has changed.

And all the art, all the music, films, voiceovers, tv shows, and collaborations he has produced will stay with us, continuing to inspire and change forever.

David Bowie will be a hero to many, including myself, forever and ever.

And that is the beauty beyond the pain of his passing.

Between Bowie and Freddie Mercury, the halls of the gods are filled with music. May such legends NEVER stop or falter.