Over my coffee this morning, I read the review of the Case Against Perfection on the subject of genetic engineering. Its author questions the "old fashioned" view that genetic engineering and aiming toward a "perfect" society would rob us of our dignity and humanity.
I profoundly disagree and I have a few thoughts on the matter from where I sit as a disabled woman. Let me start by explaining that I believe the idea that our society has developed that perfection should be a goal comes from a fear of our own humanity and its unpredictability - the very glory of our existence which sadly is losing its value in the mainstream view.
Yesterday I scootered over to an outdoor concert in a public park. There were college students on their bikes watching, families on picnic blankets, seniors, and tourists.
I was the only gimp in sight - at least the only one with a visible disability. Now mind you, I've spent weeks getting mobilized after shoulder injuries, so it's just happenstance that I got my disabled body there at all, which does make me wonder how many more people with disabilities don't have the means to get to an event like this. I suppose if I did the math in my head knowing who lives in the area, I can think of at least half a dozen people I know of within a one mile area-2 blind friends, 4 in wheelchairs. In a three mile area I know of at least thirty. None of them had the transportation to get there.
Everyone was very friendly and I had a wonderful time but I found myself thinking this morning about how such scenes present a false sense of "perfection" which really does rob our society of seeing the whole picture. I know some reading this will question what I'm saying because they see disability as a negative and feel its eradication would be a worthwhile goal because it "eliminates suffering". But those are untrue words. Because being disabled has been equated with suffering, some people equate suffering with being disabled and mix up the whole thing in their heads.
I enjoyed that concert as much as anyone else there - because I was able to get there. What causes the suffering from disability is the lack of resources that lead to isolation. It's not the disability itself. Most people with disabilities who I've met are full of joy and life. I know we've all met able bodied people who are not that way and I warrant you that tinkering with humans and eliminating disability won't fix that.
The dignity of each human being as we're created is something I believe in as a Catholic. As a person with a disability, I can bear witness to you that the fears that feed eugenics and genetic engineering as a "fix-all" of the human race are misfounded.
By denying segments of our society the resources they need to function we have already "selectively eliminated" from participation those who are visible in our society. Let's not compound this by cutting their existence off at birth.