Sunday, May 27, 2012

The sacrifice of the Betas: ( an essay for womb twin survivors)

The study of Darwinism, that is, the evolution of living things over time,  leads one to the discovery of the notion of "survival of the fittest".  In this argument debate has been concentrated on the  fittest ones, the "alpha" survivors, that maintain the vitality and vigor of every population.

The basic principle is that the alphas, the best and fittest out of a given population,  get to reproduce and have babies, which will inherit those all important alpha genes that donor egg and sperm  organisations are so willing to collect on behalf of their clients. The "betas"  meanwhile, go to the wall.  For them, it's a hard, cruel world indeed.
We carefully practice this principle today with our increased knowledge of the human genome:  once we have our newly fertilized embryos, we identify and discard the betas and let the alphas live. We are playing God in our cruelty.

Now  it seems that  Creation, however it came to be, is based on several irreducible truths, four of which l will examine below.

1.  Transformation between polarities

Intrinsic to creation (or if you prefer, "the way things are")  there are certain inescapable polarities that have to do with the presence or absence of energy. These polarities are in a constant state of transformation, one into the other.

We can see this in the life of the stars visible through telescopes. In the nebulae, stars explode and are reformed into new suns by passing through a black hole.  Light passes into darkness and then bursts into light again. On this planet we witness, every hour of every day, the way that life passes into death and is transformed once again into new life.

2.  Sustainability

One such place of transformation between death and life is the planet upon which we all live.  We are people of transformation, in a constantly changing world of seemingly random processes colliding in an apparently meaningless way.  As life passes into death, we can have no power over this process and cannot slow it down, but we are capable of accelerating it.

If  we choose to accelerate the disintegration of our bodies and minds by certain practices such as food or drug addiction, then we can, as addicts,  bring about an early death for ourselves or at  least live a life of indifferent vitality.  Even if we care for our bodies with immense love and concentration, we can do no more than live out our alloted span of years as laid down in our genetic blueprint.

To sustain life on this planet we need to do no more than keep to a minimum any action or inaction  that will compromise the ability of every person to live out their life according to his or her genetic potential.  We are self-healing organisms living in a self-regulating ecosystem.  It's already fixed, so don't break it trying to heal it.

To quote Ronald Niebuhr, there are some things  that humans have the power to change and some things we have no human capacity to control.  We do well to recognise the difference between the two.

3. The interdependence of all living things

The seeming randomness of creation is a vast structure, the mind-numbing complexity of which we are arrogant enough to believe we can understand well enough to manipulate.  We know enough now to understand that if we act in any way to damage the delicate balance of our precious ecosystem we inevitably compromise life. If we act wrongly, sustainability will be lost and extinction of some living species, including our own, must and does ensue.

"Every individual has intrinsic dignity and inalienable rights, and each of us has an inescapable responsibility for what she or he does and does not do. All our decisions and deeds, even our omissions and failures, have consequences. "
(Ref: Ervin Laszlo "You can change the world"  p.93)

To maintain sustainability we need to live in the full knowledge of our total  dependence upon one another, and each person must take responsibility for the consequences of their actions and inaction.

4.  Waste and sacrifice is built into the design

We eat other living things and other living things eat us. In this way each life is sacrificed for the life of the one higher up the food chain.  There is also a colossal amount of waste involved in reproduction. Millions of sperm and eggs are wasted for the sake of the one that does survive. 

Imagine, if you will, a river such as the Thames in London.  This can be our fallopian tube, that transports the egg to the womb and is the usual meeting point with any sperm that may be about.  Now image a football floating downstream. Here is the ovum, or egg newly released from the ovary where many thousands of eggs remain to be released in the months to come.  Now inject a few  small goldfish into the river.  Here are the sperm and their mission is to find that football and penetrate its wall and unite their contingent of genes with the ones inside the egg. It is of course this coming together that triggers the development of new life.  In the scenario we have painted, the chances of that happening are many millions to one.

Now increasing waste and sacrifice would greatly increase the chance of a good Alpha baby being born, but many potential Beta babies must be sacrificed.  To increase the chances of fertilization to anything reasonable, we are going to need more than one egg per month and certainly many millions of sperm released in several doses per month, in order to maintain the human population, let alone increase it.

After entering the womb, millions of sperm swim on alone up the fallopian tube, and die without meeting anything worth fertilizing. Hundreds of eggs are released, fall into decay un-penetrated and are lost from the womb, unseen and unnoticed.  Many fertilized eggs don't make it to implantation because the hormone balance isn't quite right and the embryo just fades away.  Many implanted fertilized embryos don't make it very far at all, and die long before birth and may remain there alongside a developing foetus that still has many months to go.  Even then there are the dangers in being born.........

By the time a baby is born he or she has been bought at considerable cost in terms of sperm, eggs and other embryos. This is the alpha survivor for whom all these sacrifices have been made.

The waste is a necessary part of the success of the design and should not be resented by the survivor, who may be tempted to call this a "flaw" in creation!   Such a reaction can only be due to survivor guilt, for it is obviously more appropriate to be grateful that this delicate and intricately-designed system worked well enough for you to be alive at all.

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