It is said that Homo Sapiens first appeared more than 1 million years ago.
Since then, various races have popped up or been exterminated according
to the law of the survival of the fittest. Climate, geography, duration
of sunshine and cultural differences were the principal factors for making
various races on earth. Geographically isolated, people were prevented
from mixing up, so that distinctively different present varieties were
But now, thanks to the development of transportation, people gradually
began to exchange their genetic storage. Only a few decades ago, international
marriage was rarity in most countries except Latin America, because some
conventional cultural differences hindered stubbornly loving couples from
producing their new type of descendants.
Today the circumstances are quite different. The difference between living
standards has made two groups; so called Northern countries and Southern
countries, or rather, developed and developing countries. People in a country
where per capita national income are so low are eager to get a job in affluent
countries; the internationalization of 'Dekasegi!, the practice of Japanese
peasants seasonally working in urban areas in search of higher pay.
This global shifting of the population can be seen all over the world;
from African countries, which used to be colonies of Britain, France, Spain,
Portugal or Holland, to major European cities, from agricultural south
European countries to industrial north European countries; from communist
east European countries to capitalist western countries, from Latin America
to USA or Canada, and from Southeast Asia to Japan.
This large scale emigration may lead to hosts of chaos, urban slums, crimes
and numerous social problems derived from racial conflicts, but somehow
these people must be ultimately assimilated in the society in which they
are to settle down.
On the other hand, in advanced countries especially affluent people would
rather look for places where living cost is reasonably lower than paying
extravagantly heavy tax or leading an expensive retired life at home. The
steep appreciation of key currency has caused these people to seek tax
haven or pension village in developing countries.
They may contribute to intermingling of different cultures, though not
bringing forth their children. Though seemingly slowly, this trend is increasingly
holding on. Children born to multi-racial families are said to be more
intelligent and healthier...girls not less beautiful than those born to
single-racial families. This may be groundless speculation, but the mixing
up of the people of remote origins is very helpful for re-vitalization
of the whole species.
But there seems to be presented a very serious problem at hand most people
are apt to overlook; the development of medical science. The danger lies,
very ironically, in the radical decrease of mortal rate, especially in
A century ago, a premature baby would have been sure to be dead instantly.
Now almost all the babies survive. Is it a blessing or curse? True,it is
heart-warming to hear of the stories about a baby being saved from death
thanks to the complicated life-sustaining equipment or a boy with serious
heart disease being able to play football with a pace-maker built in his
limb, and from humanitarian viewpoint newspapers always praise this kind
of episode for victories of medical profession.
But the facts remain that more and more mentally or physically defected
people, who would not have been saved without special treatment of modern
medicine, are living happily and to our anxiety, making their descendants
come into the world.
I don't mean to say that all the unhealthy people should be forbidden to
become parents, let alone be exterminated as Nazis actually had done so.
( This is why trying to solve this problem is often regarded as taboo.
) But the fact is that we mankind neglect the laws for the fittest; the
very thing which has made the prosperity of living organisms what they
We HAVE neglected the laws by killing numberless youths in wars and today
we do so owing to our total indifference to our genetic future. If we want
to wrap our life with humanistic cellophane, then what the future should
have in store for us?
We have made ourselves so completely domesticated that there seems to be
no point of return now; most of us can no longer get back to wilderness
and lead a savage life, letting ourselves at the mercy of literally 'the
law of the jungle' nor can we abandon those who are suffering from illnesses.
We have been stuck in moral swamp.
It is next to impossible to expose ourselves to the every competition for
survival, but where no natural selection works, there is no evolution,
but only a regression. There seems to be only three alternatives.
First, we let things go and see the humanity deteriorate as it is. Overprotective
medical and hygienic care and mechanized life would sure to deprive men
of their vitality, the most fundamental thing to life. It may be the twilight
for the whole history of mankind; people languishing in highly advanced
Second, an authoritative choice, mandatory selective childbirth, regulated
by the government. Geneticists would examine the genes of the parents and
decide the feasibility of their giving birth. All the births and deaths
are strictly controlled, and above all those who have defective genes would
not be allowed to bear their descendants, say, by means of sterilization.
The scene reminds us of Huxley's 'Brave New World'. The criteria for making
decisions would be, of course, arbitrary and serve only the contemporary
rulers, as seen in most science fiction story tellers' accounts.
The third option is making up the two world, the one in which people having
defective genes are protected by advanced medicine and enjoy all the blessings
of enhanced society, and the other in which people live in primitive conditions,
at the mercy of elements and diseases, only to succumb except for the strong
or fortunate few.
People in the former society despise those in the latter and the communication
between them would be non-existent. In the end they will have become two
All of them give us gloomy prospect, but there is no other way but to go
on. The best way to keep the genes healthy may be found, but to enforce
it means breaching fundamental human freedom. It's not in our position
to judge between what is healthy and what is not. This very contradiction
only leads to either lessez-faire policy or authoritarian rule or both.
The third option seems a little better than these formers, but most people
know too well that once Eve knows the tastes of a forbidden apple she cannot
forget the pleasure it has brought. History is irreversible.
WRITTEN IN FEBRUARY 1987
REVISED IN OCTOBER 1999
HOME ＜ Think for yourself ＞ Essays ＞ Genetic Future