As Burly Bonds moves in on Honest Aaron's record of 755 home runs, there has been considerable clamor about baseball players, among others, using performance-enhancing steroids to elevate their play.
The mapping of the human genome has opened up a myriad of possibilities for the future of humanity. Generally, the potentiality of cures for various diseases takes center
stage today. But off lurking in the weeds are other issues.
For, in cracking our own genome, we have the possibility of finding cures for the truckload of emotional and mental disorders that have plagued mankind in perpetuity. We may also have the ability to alter our IQ's, our cognitive skills, in short, our basic intelligence.
Transhumans is the term being used to describe this potentiality today. Still far-off, the transhuman would be a human being that has managed to transmute Darwinian
evolution and enhance his mental and emotional abilities. In a sense, it would constitute the overriding of our evolutionary programming, which is interested primarily in
survival and replication, with the ability to take our destinies into our own hands.
Briefly, our ancestors that wore the "Kiss the Cook" aprons and ran around spreading love and good cheer like "Barney, the dinosaur" were quickly devoured by the sabre-toothed tigers on the Serengeti desert. (And I might add, "yay"). Our ancestors that survived the rigors of our evolutionary past were the edgier, constantly looking over their shoulder, neurotic types, (I'm thinking Woody Allen here). As such, we
were never bred for felicity or well being per se, only survival, which would be the so-called "prime directive" of our life giving force, DNA.
So what does all this have to do with Barry Bonds" Bunyanesque biceps? Plenty. For the first question I would broach in all of this is what does it matter if Mr. Bonds uses steroids? Why is performance-enhancing equated with being bad? I would argue that in a so-called free society we, as individuals have the right to use whatever substances
that we deem appropriate.
Let's cover a few facts. The deleterious effects of steroids have been greatly exaggerated, like virtually all illegal drugs. In fact, let's go a little further. America itself
has an ongoing drug problem beyond even Biblical proportion.
As of this writing, some 40 to 50 million of us smoke tobacco, about 100-110 million use alcohol to some degree, and how many tens of millions use legal prescription drugs
to ameliorate their various mental and emotional pains? To say nothing of illegal drug use which, so I've read, is estimated to be 20 to 30 million pot smokers of varying
degrees. In surveying my own loose knit family, about 15 of the 20 use or have used drugs of some kind. 75%. And roughly 75% is what I would guess the percentage to be for society at large.
So, we are a nation of drug users, telling other drug users that we don't approve of their drugs, because they aren't OUR drugs.
And now to the issue at hand, performance-enhancement. When the drinker takes his oral fix of Chivas Regal, isn't he improving his performance and social skills, in meeting and interacting with other people? Courage to mingle with the opposite sex? In fact, isn't alcohol the original drug of choice for what we now deem social anxiety disorder? Hasn't alcohol been used for centuries as a relaxant, a social lubricant to embolden the shy, the person with social anxiety disorder? That's performance-enhancement. So is the use of tobacco. It quickly delivers (in a scant seven seconds) calming, relaxing drugs directly to the brain. And so to, all the other drugs we ingest. Isn't using Viagra
like putting your pee-pee on steroids? So it can then burst forth singing, "here I come to save the day..."?
In the final analysis, there is simply nothing wrong with humanity endeavoring to improve itself. This is simply the way of things, the way of evolution, and our manifest
destiny. The only difference being that now, instead of building better machines and contraptions, we are able to begin to build our own beings better. We need to end our
duplicity. We are an animal that uses drugs to help itself, there is nothing wrong in this.
I'm also a baseball fan. I believe the primary objection of many is that it gives current players an unfair advantage over their predecessors. Unfortunately, I think they're
right. Babe Ruth didn't have the opportunity to use steroids. If he did, he may well have hit 100 homers in a season. My reaction? Tough. That's the price we must pay for
So there we are. What to do? Do we move ahead as a nation, as a people, as a species, or do we preserve the records of our former baseball, football and basketball stars? We, at this moment in history, are on the cutting edge of truly remarkable advances for all of humanity. Will we be luddites or embrace the future? The future is rocketing toward us.
Great changes await future generations. We may eventually be able to subvert many of the nastier aspects of our own Darwinian evolution.
Will we insist on bumping along on our tired old nags, or saunter into town and buy one of those newfangled, shiny Model Ts of Mr. Ford that everybody's talking about?
"Everybody Hates Chris" Volkay