On his bulletin board at Bensozia, John says, “I think something about the technology [IVF] just scares people, and so they invent weird reasons to oppose it.”
Society has created technology, and technology has recreated society, a society where “no” is not an acceptable answer. Whether the question is as simple as, “Can I get that proposal by the end of the day?” or as complex as, “Is there any drug, treatment, or procedure that will stem my illness and prolong my life?,” the answer must never be in the negative. As the second Star Trek movie emphasized, “There are always alternatives.” If there are no alternatives, they must or will be invented. Treatment for cancer is simply an interim step; the demand is for a cure.
As for the proposal, once it could be sent overnight via FedEx, with harried office workers straining to meet the 9 p.m. pickup. Now they can email it, which means great pressure, especially when technological solutions tend make every decision maker even more of a procrastinator. But the answer is still never, “No.”
We cannot accept “no“ from nature, either. Everything that she throws at us that we don‘t like is a “problem“ to be “fixed,“ according to our industrial age-inspired ideology. If the human machine is broken, if it can‘t conceive, for example, and if it can‘t be repaired, then another mechanical solution must be found. Grief, loss, helplessness — these are seen as negative emotions to be avoided or subverted. But how can we feel joy without feeling grief? How can we understand the depths of love without experiencing the pain of rejection? How can anyone grasp the highs without the lows? Is a flat-line existence of comfort, complacency, and getting everything you want living?
Is that why reality TV is popular? People with carefully regimented, controlled lives seek out the avarice, bitterness, and bitchiness that lie behind reality TV. On weekends, some — seemingly a growing number — of thrill seekers pursue extreme sports like ultramarathon running in the desert or activities that are as dangerous as possible, like rock climbing, bungee jumping, or whitewater rafting. Anything to feel a rush, to feel alive.
Maybe we could feel alive if we stop treating life as a problem to be fixed and our bodies as machines to be repaired, if we could accept real pain (not the manufactured kind) and death as readily as we accept joy and life, appreciate shadow as much as light. If we could understand ourselves as living organisms. The more we aspire to some kind of unnatural perfection, the more we soil our home, the more problems we create, the more we feel thwarted, and the more we want and expect.
Obviously, most of us take advantage of medical technology, me included. Knowing where the lines should be drawn — or if the lines should be drawn at all — is a question that can’t be answered to everyone’s satisfaction.
We are like children in the universe, children whose intellect exceeds our wisdom by far, with the gap growing imperceptibly every day. As Frankenstein learned, simply because a thing can be done does not mean that it should be done.
When you can’t accept “no” as an answer, when you can’t accept that there may be limits to science and technology, even to the human mind and the prescience of its wisdom, you deny one of the things that make us human, an evolving organism. And that may be what is frightening. If we can’t let ourselves be human, what do we want to be?