Ego Plays God, Heart Knows Spirit, and Genetically- Engineered Food Ain’t Good

Someone might ask me, “Mike, what are you writing about this evening? More environmental issues and concepts?” I would answer that I am, indeed; I’m writing about genetic engineering.

“How in the hell are you going to link genetic engineering to Ego and Heart, metaphysical considerations? Surely, you can’t. If you do, you’re stretching it to a new level of disbelief, even worse than all the other stupid shit you’ve written about!”

I would tell them that I have never been more serious, and if they think that all the topics I have covered over the last seventeen months, every single day, has been stretching the spiritual composition of humanity, then they better read tonight’s post carefully, even though I will still have to write rather quickly with scant revision and editing. I use Barbara Kingsolver’s collection of essays, Small Wonder, as my primary source tonight, focusing exclusively on the essay “A Fist in the Eye of God.”

The essence of my thoughts is this: Ego-arrogance of mega-corporations in league with governments at local, state, and national/international levels to engineer the essence of life for the motive of profit poses threats of epic proportions to humanity. Opposing this position, Heart-energy recognizes what is being done and how the genetic manipulation of life traits of Nature creates “unforeseen consequences.” Dangerous ones. My preference here is each of you would purchase and read Ms. Kingsolver’s book and this chapter, but I will do my best to represent her ideas and apply them.

I appreciate how Kingsolver, an accomplished biologist, makes it clear that no scientist is impartial and objective in designing and interpreting experiments. They can be in conducting them, but the Ego and Heart dynamics cannot be set aside: “Ethics can’t influence the outcome of an experiment, but they can sever as a useful adjunct to the questions that get asked in the first place….Social norms and judgments regarding gender, race, the common good, cooperation, competition, material gain, and countless other issues reside in every action of the human mind, so they were hovering somewhere in the vicinity of any experiment ever conducted by a human” (107). And such thoughts are energized by Heart or Ego, because those are inherent to humans. It’s okay if you want to deny that or believe and present a theory in antithesis to that, but some way, somehow, the same duality will exist and impact the way we make decisions.

To trust scientists dependent on mega-corporations for salaries and funding stretches my credulity, but more than that, worse than that, is many people believe the conclusions they draw. Governments under the influence of their lobbyists set policy that has faulty applications based on greed, power, and control. Ultimately, Kingsolver says, “Where genetic engineering is concerned, I would rather have ethics than profitability driving the program” (108). Or, as I would put it, I would rather have Heart-energy powering the minds and souls of the decision-makers.

Kingsolver offers wonderful, succinct analyses and examples of genetic engineering and the unknown possible negative consequences as well as the already proven negative consequences. For example, the use of a strain of corn genetically engineered to have the pesticide Bacillus thurengensis, a germ that actually destroys caterpillars when they eat just a smidgen of the corn, sounds good. But there is no control over the pollen that spreads from that corn, which means butterflies and many other pollinating organisms ingest that unnaturally introduced bacteria and their species are then threatened. Not acceptable. One thing I have said many times over is Ego-based decisions as regards the environment does not take destruction into account — only Ego concerns like control, wealth, and power.

I could go through the whole essay by topic, but I will not do that. It’s her essay. I will mention, though, the shallow, Ego-rationalizations of some folks that farmers have been genetically engineering for thousands of years. No, no they haven’t: “The farmers who select their best sheep or grains to mother the next year’s crop are working with the evolutionary force of selection, pushing it in the direction of their choosing. Anything produced in this way will still work within its natural evolutionary context of variability, predators, disease resistance, and so forth. But tampering with genes outside of the checks and balances you might call the rules of God’s laboratory is an entirely different process” (103). She further says, “Genetic engineering is the antithesis of variability” (101), i.e., it destroys the natural process, does the exact opposite of it — for profit. Playing at God with none of the expertise of knowing how to make it all work together — Ego-impulse.

The removal of natural variation isn’t happenstance. It’s purposeful. It’s for profit and control. It’s pure Ego-generated destruction of Nature. You know, that Nature referred to in the Declaration of Independence, whose laws should not be violated? The reason for seed banks around the world is to ensure biodiversity, because the mega-corporation products, “[e]ngineered genes [that] don’t play by the rules that have organized life…” (104), would doom life if left to their bottom line profit thinking. The seed banks seek to preserve the laws of Nature — biodiversity.

Do you doubt that the agricultural corporations operate solely based on profit? Are you aware that the leading corporation engineered a “‘terminator technology,’ which causes plants to kill their own embryos so no viable seeds will survive for a farmer to replant in the next generation” (105)? Why would that be? Hmmm? Ego-energy, pure and unvarnished. It’s the reason most other nations have banned “engineered foods or seeds from the United States” (105).

I see the workings of Ego and Heart in very direct conflict here. Kingsolver makes the point that while religion should not be taught in the public school classroom in a way that subverts or obscures true science, scientists, once trained, should hold nature and natural processes as sacred. Upon holding in her hand one of the terminator seeds, she says, “I glimpsed the malevolence that can lie in the heart of a profiteering enterprise” (108). I would say lie in the Ego of such people who run these corporations.

I will end with a Heart sentiment Barbara Kingsolver expresses so eloquently: “I’m a scientist who thinks it wise to enter the doors of creation not with a lion tamer’s whip and chair, but with the reverence humankind has traditionally summoned for entering places of worship…a sacred grove, as ancient as time” (108). That is Heart-energy, my friends, energy that values the essence of some spiritual connection and principle operating in all of life, in every molecule, every atom.

The difference between the two is this: Those choosing to live via Ego play at being God, believe that the ends justify the means, think short term and disregard destruction. Those living Heart, though, realize they are a little part of God, Spirit, and everything else here is, too, and we know we draw the line at destruction for the sake of control, manipulation, wealth, and power.

Blessings as you consider sacred things!

(All quotes: Kingsolver, Barbara. Small wonder. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2002. Print.)

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