Transformative Experience

Transformative ExperienceOnly eight posts ago, I lamented that the more important our decisions are, the less thought we seem to put into them. We only invest enough thought to find what makes us feel good, I said, and I wished we would apply more rational thought to our big choices.

Maybe I was asking too much.

Philosopher L.A. Paul says that when it comes to truly life-changing decisions — ones that transform the way you think or your mode of being — there’s no way we can be entirely rational, because on the other side of those decisions we will be so profoundly changed that our present selves can have no idea what our future selves will think.

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The Welcome Erosion of Natural Law

Section 377 of India’s Constitution was in the news this week. It states, “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for [a] term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.” Although Section 377 does not spell out what is “against the order of nature,” conservatives have interpreted it to bar homosexual activity, among other things.

So it was big news this week when India’s Supreme Court ruled that “In a democratic Constitution founded on the rule of law, rights (of minorities) are as sacred as those conferred on other citizens to protect their freedoms and liberties. Sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy.”

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What Defines You: What You Think or What You Do?

In the movie Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne (a.k.a. Batman) is acting the part of an outrageous playboy in order to maintain his cover. At the tail end of one escapade, who should appear but Rachel Dawes, a friend from years ago whose admiration he craves. He tries to explain that what she has just witnessed does not represent the real Bruce Wayne.

Rachel devastatingly replies, “Deep down you may still be that same great kid you used to be. But it’s not who you are underneath; it’s what you do that defines you.”

Is that true?

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Designer Babies Are at the Doorstep

A child with cystic fibrosis (CF) can look forward to a lifetime of nearly suffocating in his own mucus, probably infertility in the case of a male child, and finally death in middle age.

The disease is genetic. If you were pregnant and knew your baby was destined to struggle with CF, what would you do?

  • Have an abortion?
  • Carry the baby to term as-is?
  • Repair the defective genes so he would not develop CF?

For me, the choice would be easy. I would repair the genes.

designer-babiesThis week, news broke that scientists have managed to edit the DNA of human embryos using CRISPR-Cas9 technology, in a way that could absolutely cure CF and other diseases. (Here’s a 90-second explanation of CRISPR, and here’s one in more depth that runs 7:20.)

Not only could the technique prevent disease in an affected embryo, but the gene would forever be eliminated from the line of descent (the embryo’s children). Pretty great, right?

Yes, but the scary part is that this technique could conceivably be employed to edit any gene. You want taller children? Smarter children? Stronger children? You will be able to have them — for a price.

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The Hand of God

Hand of God
A friend recently encouraged me to recall the times I perceived the hand of God on my life.

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How to Show Deep Respect

This week, Canada’s Governor General caused a stir because he touched the Queen of England during her visit to his country. He was only trying to ensure that the 91-year-old monarch did not take a tumble while descending a set of carpeted stairs, but still…there are certain things that are not done!

The episode brought to mind the ending of the 1956 film, The King and I, which is about how to show deep respect.

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Unusual Superpowers

I recently read an article in The Guardian about people who have a superpower I had never heard of. They are “empaths” — people who are “capable of feeling someone else’s feeling in their own body.”

Here is a sample experience from the article:

[An empath named Noah Berman and his friend] were sharing a joint when [the friend’s] sister came in looking distressed; Berman told his friend that her sister had been sexually assaulted by a person they both knew, and that she would disclose this in three weeks’ time. His premonition was correct.

Sometimes being an empath is a burden, as when one young empath was “bullied by his classmates, who were freaked out when he intuited information about them.”

This got me thinking about unconventional superpowers. If you could be granted one superpower other than the ones you’ve seen in movies (so no flying, combat skills, invisibility, or shape-shifting), what would it be? Here are some choices to get you started.

The ability to sing or play music that would evoke any desired emotion in those who hear it. The sirens of Greek myth had this ability, but only for the purpose of luring sailors to shipwreck on their island. Imagine if they had used their power to produce love, humility, patience, magnanimity, or other virtues!

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