There has been a lot of controversy recently regarding cloning. As one who has studied ethics at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, the home of Dolly, the cloned sheep and having taught ethics at the college level, I'm well aware of the many moral issues related to cloning. For example, do we have the right to play God? How do we deal with the mistakes of cloning humans? Who decides who is cloned, and by what criteria is that decided? While I think it is interesting that we can clone sheep and mice, I am personally hesitant to jump into the experimental petri dish of cloning human beings until we resolve the ethical questions swirling around this controversy.
In addition to the moral and medical questions that need to be addressed, I'm also concerned about the psychological ramifications concerning cloning. If we are not going to clone everyone in the world, we need to decide who is cloned and who isn't. I spend a great deal of my time with clients facing emotional problems and students who are anxious about their futures. My concern is that cloning will add an additional component to their already conflicted world. I don't know about you, but if I was rejected as a potential cloner-donor, I'm sure that rejection would be a major blow to my ego. Like many of you, I manage to cope fairly well with all of the psychological pressures that are facing us all in this millennium. However, I'm not sure that my ego is strong enough to take the ultimate rejection: "You are not worth being cloned. We don't want even a part of you in the next generation."
Now, I have received rejection slips from potential publishers for my still unpublished book. These notices are devastating, but they simply reflect one aspect of my personhood-whether someone thinks my book is marketable or not. A publisher's rejection doesn't go to the very heart of who I am like a rejection slip from a cloner-donor corporation. That rejection would go beyond telling me that I can't write, but that the next generation doesn't need another one of me. It takes me several days to adjust to a rejection slip from a prospective publisher, but I don't know how long it would take me to recover from the emotional assault of totally not being wanted as a cloner-donor. That is a real emotional slap in the face of my ego!
For those of you who will not receive the pink slip from a cloner-donor group, you can stop reading this article. Your time would be better spent filling out the paperwork relating to your cloning. For the rest of us who will be rejected as cloner-donors and who have brittle egos, I have some suggestions about how we should live the rest of our lives. These suggestions are critical since this will be the last time that we non-clonees will go through life:
1. Be prudent about time. The Old Testament psalmist reminds us to number our days so that we will become wise. A part of wisdom is knowing that our time here is finite. Therefore, we need to be good time/managers of this precious gift of life. Regardless of our present ages, our lives will be over all too quickly. Our deathbed is not the time to begin to enjoy life.
2. Affirm your uniqueness. Just because you are not a renaissance person, talented in all aspects of life, each of us does possess certain gifts. Utilize those talents that you do have. I realize that my math and organizational skills will keep me out of the cloner-donor pool. However, my deficiencies in math and organization don't mean that I cannot write or cook. I need to utilize those talents that I do have and not get so depressed that I am not able to excel in all areas.
3. Put rejection into perspective. We shouldn't take rejection seriously. There are over six billion people on earth, and the overwhelming majority will never be asked to be a part of the cloner-donor pool. We have a lot of company. Only a very few near perfect people will ever be picked to be cloned.
4. Brace yourself. We are at the dawn of a new millennium and a brave new world. Have faith and trust that we will make the right decisions as we journey into that future. We have a long and successful past overcoming obstacles. We will cope with cloning even if you and I aren't those cloned.