I’ve always been reluctant to sign up with the Department of Motor Vehicles, aka the DMV, as an organ donor. In one of those instances of being unable to make up my mind, I simply postponed a decision every time it came up. It’s a strategy I borrowed from a friend of mine, deciding by doing nothing. It’s a bit of self-delusion but it allowed me to live with other people’s embrace of the science of organ replacement. For myself, it’s a no go. I’ve told all my loved ones that I want a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order in place for me. But what about other people? Do I think that everyone should go DNR?
The short answer is no. As you read this, I’ve a very good friend who’s waiting for an organ to become available. A team of surgeons is on standby to perform a sixteen hour surgical procedure to open his body, remove the defective organ and replace it with a healthy one that, in all probability, will come from the body of a traffic fatality. That’s the first bite of irony, that my friend’s happy ending depends on someone’s tragic death. But there’s more.
In another great leap forward our wonderful scientists have come up with driverless cars. One of the eagerly anticipated benefits of this advance is a reduction in the rate of fatalities on the nation’s well traveled roads. And there it is. The second ironic bit, that the reduction in the occurrence of traffic accident fatalities reduces the chances of people like my friend getting the happy ending they’ve been anticipating for so long.
I’m not against science and the development of understanding of ourselves and our world. I’m for caution in turning every new discovery into profit. The rush to monetize new science is what I’m against. We need to appreciate the magnificent complexity of our Universe and restrain the hubris that we feel every time we make some little advance in our observations. Ability should not compel action. Look at the Atomic Bomb. Look at what we’ve done.