The Biggest Influence on my Life

Summer going into senior year, I was hard at work on my college applications. Sure, my grades were good but they were not phenomenal. Sure, I had extra curriculars, but I did not have that many activities compared to other people in my grade. Sure, I took the SATs twice, but my scores were lackluster. Thus, I knew I had to write a really awesome essay, which would potentially be the difference of getting in a college or not.

 

Writing the essay was a tedious and agonizing process. I wrote and rewrote countless essays on the different topics we could choose from. Nothing ever seemed to be good enough. Nothing really screamed me. It would take me hours to write whole paragraphs and seconds to delete them all. It was incredibly frustrating. Nothing seemed to be going right until all of a sudden, inspiration hit me like a thunderbolt. I knew the perfect topic.

 

One of the essay options for the common application was to write about a person who was the biggest influence on your life. I had previously considered that option but that topic leads to so many clichéd answers about parents or a sports coach. I am many things but a cliché is something I am not. I realized that I was forgetting perhaps one of the most important people in my life- my (former) speech therapist.

 

From the minute I got my cochlear implant, I was immediately placed into speech therapy. I hated speech therapy. I hated it. Every session was as entertaining as watching the grass grow. I was forced to repeat the same sounds over and over until I finally got it. Speech therapy is freaking tough. It took me forever until I was able to pronounce the “k” sound. When I finally did, my speech therapist threw me a party. Let me explain. I went to a deaf and hard of hearing preschool in Los Angeles called John Tracy Clinic. All of the other children were in speech therapy like I was. Whenever one of us learned how to pronounce a certain sound, the entire class would get together and throw a celebratory party with pizza and ice cream. It was pretty awesome and it was a great motivator.

 

When I was five years old, my mom tried to enter me into kindergarten. The school district felt that although I was intelligent enough, my speech was not good enough. I had to wait another year. For a long time, I was self-conscious that I was older than most of my classmates. Fortunately, I met my best friend in kindergarten when I was six years old. He was only a few days younger than me and he, too, had started late but for other reasons.

 

By the time I had started elementary school, I had already been through a bunch of speech therapists. I was an extremely uncooperative and angry child. I thought it was unfair that I had to go to speech therapy while the rest of my peers did not. I was stuck indoors while people my age would go outside and play. My speech therapists all quit, as I was too much to handle. I hated them all.

 

None of my speech therapists lasted long until her. Her name was Sandy and because of her, I am able to talk as well as I do now. I threw temper tantrums, cried, hid under tables, and did whatever I could to be a pain in the butt. Sandy was always incredibly patient and kind with me. I do not recall her ever losing her temper with me. She would come a few times a week and would work with me. We would play speech games, do speech exercises, and take speech exams. It was boring, tedious, and repetitive. I was forced to talk the entire time, which was both physically and mentally exhausting. Slowly but surely, my speech improved over time. At first, I had difficulties even pronouncing my own name. It felt strange and foreign on my tongue. Now, I can proudly say my name. Laura. I love my name and I love saying my name. Sandy was my speech therapist up until I graduated from elementary school. When I graduated from elementary school, I also graduated from speech therapy. Eight years I was in speech therapy. Eight long years but it was worth it.

 

My speech is still imperfect. I have difficulties saying some words or mispronouncing them. I remember that in senior year of high school, I had the hardest time saying ‘philosophical’ in one of my classes. Humiliated, I went home and practiced saying philosophical over and over until I was able to get it. Phil-oh-so-phi-cal. Philosophical. However, my speech is good enough that I am able to be understood by most people. Whenever I meet other deaf/ hard of hearing people and/ or their parents, it is always remarked upon how good my speech is. None of that would have been possible without Sandy. Sandy, the one who never gave up on me when all the rest had.

 

My college essay was not the most spectacular writing I have ever done but I think it conveyed the message well. As lame as it sounds, I actually teared up while writing my essay. I cannot begin to express how thankful I am for her help. My quality of life is so much better due to her. Sandy is the biggest influence on my life and without her, I would not be the same person I am today.

Go Back to Sleep

When I was younger, I was terrified to go to sleep. I would take off my cochlear implant right before I went to bed. Every night, I would lie down in my bed, unable to see and hear anything. Since I was never a religious person, I imagined that was exactly what death was like. Completely deprived of your senses and alone with your thoughts. I had to keep the TV on or else I would be too afraid to go to sleep. It didn’t matter what channel the TV was on, just that it was on. The light flashing from the TV was soothing. As long as the light was on, I knew that I was still alive.

It’s funny that my perception of death is a bit different from the popular view. You hear all the time on TV and movies to not go near “the light.” The white light was viewed as something bad and unknown. It’s strange how white is associated with weddings and purity but it can also be connoted with death. I, on the other hand, welcomed the white light from the TV. It was soothing and comforting. As long as the white light hit me, I knew that I had not died. It was the darkness that truly terrified me. Black is all encompassing and it conceals, it hides. White reveals all and black masks. What sort of evil lurks in the dark?

Although I can see why white is more terrifying than black. White is nothing. Mental asylums are painted in entirely white. The white light signifies death. If you don’t believe in Heaven and Hell, then after death, there is nothing. Black, at least, has an air of mystery behind it. Black contains possibilities. There might be something hiding in the darkness. White reveals all but what if there’s nothing to reveal? What if there’s just… nothing? White leaves no room for doubt while black contains promises. White terrifies many people and for good reason. Nothingness is a terrifying concept for many people. We humans struggle to find a meaning in our otherwise meaningless lives. For the struggling writer, what’s more daunting than staring at the blank, white word document with nothing typed? For the struggling artist, a blank, white sheet of paper just waiting to be drawn on.

 Over time, I learned to conquer my fear. It took many sleepless nights before I was able to go to sleep without the TV on. To this day, I still don’t enjoy sleeping. Every night before I go to sleep, I’m forced to think about all my thoughts and worries that plague me. Some nights my brain won’t shut up until a few hours before I’m meant to get up. Every night, fear and self-doubt occupies my brain. What if I’m not good enough? What if I fail? What if I’ll never achieve success? What if? What if? Some of my friends love sleeping. I do not. If sleeping weren’t a vital human function, I would never go to sleep again.

My inner demons haunt me in my nightmares. When I was younger, I would get terrifying nightmares that I still remember vividly to this day. One of the scariest nightmares I had was when I woke up completely blind (in my dream). My eyeballs had been shredded to pieces and there was blood dripping from their remains. I woke up (in real life) and could not see anything since it was pitch black in my house. I stumbled to my parents’ room in a complete panic, utterly hysterical. My parents turned the lights on and it took a minute or two before I was able to see anything. Ever since that day, I’ve been terrified that I’ll become blind. I’m an artist and art is very much visually based. If I’m blind, I would never be able to appreciate the beauty of the world in the same way again.  Being deaf is bad enough but being blind is so, so much worse.

Sleep still makes me uneasy. I know that dreams are just a figment of my imagination. I know that nothing can hurt me. But still. As the mighty Frank Underwood from House of Cards said, “I’ve always loathed the necessity of sleep. Like death, it puts even the most powerful men on their backs.” When you sleep, you’re defenseless. That’s why I think sleeping with a romantic partner (like, actually sleeping) is one of the biggest signs that you trust them. You’re entrusting them to be around you when your guard is at its lowest. When you’re asleep, you’re utterly defenseless. Nowadays, I no longer require the TV to go to sleep but I do wish sleep wasn’t a necessary part of being a human being. For the night is dark and full of terrors. 

Break Through the Silence

I have never been a very talkative person. I don’t know if it has always been a part of my personality or the fact that I did not learn how to talk until I was around three years old. The first few years of your life are one of the most important since those are your formative years. Infants usually start talking around fifteen months. That translates to a little more than a year old. In contrast, I was around three when I started to talk. I had a two-year delay and while it may not seem so much, in terms of your formative years, it’s a huge delay. Plus, as soon as babies are born, they immediately start hearing and taking in sounds. I was unable to hear until I was around two and a half years old. From the minute I got my cochlear implant, I was playing catch up with the rest of my peers.

I can’t really remember much of my childhood so I don’t know how much of a talkative person I was. When I was three years old, my brother was born. He, too, was deaf but since my parents had already learned their mistakes from me, my brother’s deafness was detected a lot earlier on. He got the cochlear implant when he was around a year old. My brother was and still is a very talkative person. He would always ask a million questions and he was naturally a very curious person. Since my brother talked so much, I just let him talk away. He would use up all the air in the room so I would keep quiet. It was easier that way.

I have a very vivid memory of one summer when my family and I traveled to Israel. Our family in Israel lives in Rishon, which is in south Israel. We were traveling with one of my father’s friends and his family to Haifa, which is in northern Israel. My brother talked to my mother the entire car ride while I sat in the very back and played my Gameboy. I did not talk once the entire car ride. When we got to our destination, I made some sort of noise and my brother turned around, startled. He said he had forgotten that I was even there.

My family is extroverted while I am introverted. I was artistic and was good at it while my family lacked any sort of artistic ability whatsoever. I always got the feeling that my parents could never really get me since I was so different from them in many ways. My mom would always ask me to go out and hang out with my friends more on the weekends. It’s not as if I never hung out with my friends after school or on the weekends. However, I didn’t hang out with them every weekend. My mom couldn’t fathom that I was content with just staying at home. In my mind, I already saw my friends five times a week and I had no burning desire to constantly be around them. I needed my alone time to recharge myself. I like being around people but after a while, it gets exhausting. In regards to that, my parents never got and still cannot understand me.

I was eleven years old when my sister was born. She proved to be equally loud as my brother. In most families, the youngest children get more attention than the oldest since they require it. My family was no exception. My brother had been the youngest child in the family for the longest time so I was used to getting less attention than him. I did not particularly mind since I had always been fiercely independent and quiet. I was much more low-key and was not demanding at all. My mother says that when I was around five years old, I would tell her that she could go to Starbucks herself and I could stay at home by myself. In contrast, my brother demanded my mother’s attention at every possible second. I sometimes wondered if the umbilical cord had ever been cut off.

When my sister was born, I was shunted off to the side even more. My sister was even more demanding than my brother. My brother, not used to the fact that he was no longer the youngest, resented my sister for a very long time. In fact, I still don’t think he ever fully forgave my sister for replacing his position as the youngest. My sister and brother battled each other for my mother’s attention. I did nothing of the sort and so, I felt ignored. Just because I enjoy my quiet time, does not mean that I don’t need attention of any sort. I do get lonely a lot (and even more so now that I’m in college). I am not loud and demanding so I get left behind which I think is unfair. I have no doubts that I am loved. I just don’t think that my mom was (and is) ever quite sure of what to make of me. I never told her that I wanted more attention because I knew she had her hands full with raising a newborn baby and making sure my brother got the attention he craved.

I was also very quiet in school. I had a small, tight-knit group of friends who I am still friends with to this day. I barely spoke in class or to my other classmates. My quietness also translated to outside of school. I was an avid basketball player and I played for the high school’s basketball team. In my junior year, my teammates had the idea to have a sleepover for the entire team. We started talking at the sleepover and I came out of my reserved shell. The players were shocked to find out that I actually had a personality (hah!). One of my teammates told me that she had no idea that I was this funny. I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to come out of my shell although I do have theories. I am not an outwardly friendly and bubbly person. I abhor small talk of any sort. For people, small talk can lead to more substantial conversations, which leads to friendship. Personally, I suck at small talk and I’d rather avoid it if I can. If I have nothing to say, I keep quiet.

I suck at talking. I suck at communicating my feelings. I was always much better at writing things down than saying them out loud. Sometimes I think I was born a deaf-mute considering how little I talk. For me, talking can be exhausting. I have to form my ideas and what I’m going to say in a short period of time. When I write, I am able to mull over my thoughts and choose the precise words I want use.

I believe there is also another reason why I am so quiet. Without going into too much detail (because this is incredibly personal), I will say that my home life was rocky. My parents have a turbulent marriage and more often than not, I would be stuck in the middle of the crossfires. Some days would be so bad that I would lock myself in my room, only surfacing when I was hungry. As I got older, the fights became worse and worse. The problems started to mount on top of each other until it got to the point where I felt like Atlas, with the burden of the world on my shoulders. I would get home from school or practice and dash immediately for my room. It was better to shut myself away from everyone else and isolate myself. That was my coping mechanism and I do not know if my actions were the wisest but it was how I dealt with it. I retreated inwardly and talked even less.

It’s incredibly hard for me to open up to people. People are unreliable and they always let me down. Plus I knew no one who went through the same situations as I did. There was no one for me to relate to as most of my friends came from much happier households than I came from. Over time, I have opened up to more people. I’ve never told any one single person my entire backstory but I have told it in fragments to different people. I think it’s better this way. Mysteries are no fun once they’re solved.

Reflecting back on my life, I do believe my silence was beneficial in some ways. Silence is a weapon. If you are silent, no one can know what you are truly thinking. The stupidest person in the world could appear to be the wisest if they said nothing. You cannot judge a person’s intelligence until you hear them speak in most cases. When a person did something that affected me negatively, I could see them wait for me to react with anger or hostility. However, very often, I would say nothing. I could see that my silence made them squirm. People are used to outward displays of anger, not the opposite. I would always feel a sense of victory when this occurred since silence can say a lot more than words. Silence can be interpreted in many ways. Are you silent because you’re angry? Sad? Happy? What is it? People talk too much. There’s just too much excess noise. There will maybe be ten percent gold in what they’re saying and the rest of the ninety percent is just filler. When I talk, I have a purpose.

I pride myself for being a very honest person. I restrain myself a lot from speaking my pure, unadulterated thoughts aloud because people do not want to hear the truth, no matter what they claim. Speaking the truth has gotten me in a lot of trouble over the years. It’s even cost me friendships. A lot of people will lie to themselves. I try to never do that to myself. If you lie to yourself constantly, you start to believe in the lie. I am reflective and I will analyze my every action. I am not saying that I never lie to myself. However, I am saying that I try to avoid it if possible. I am human and I am susceptible to all human errors and imperfections. I’d just like to think that at least I have the honesty and decency to admit it. I may come off as blunt and harsh with others. That is nothing compared to how blunt and harsh I am to myself. I judge myself incredibly harshly and hold myself to impossible standards. It’s why I am not overly sensitive to other people’s criticisms or feelings. No one can be as hard on me as I am on myself. I am my own best friend and my worst enemy.

I do not talk a lot for a myriad of reasons. Some reasons are because I was born this way, other because of my disability, and the rest were because of external factors in my life. I may not say much but I see a lot. I sit back and observe people. I may not say it out loud but I do cherish every single person in my life (family and friends) a lot. If I talk to you on a regular basis, you probably have some sort of quality that I enjoy or admire. In the end, silence is both good and bad. Silence can say a lot but it’s easy for it to be misinterpreted.

 

 

(AN: The title is from a Monty Are I song- a vastly underrated band. If you’re bored and in need of some music, I’d highly recommend you check them out)

Humans are Monsters

One of the classes I take this semester is called “The Psychology and Science of Survival.” It’s an interesting class where we mostly read stories of survival and then have a class discussion about the reading. Anyways, we started a new unit on the Holocaust (our previous readings had been about people surviving extreme natural conditions of the jungle or at sea) so this was a dramatic shift in tone. I am Jewish and I absolutely detest reading or watching anything related to the Holocaust. The Holocaust is a painful topic for me so I try to avoid it if I can.

For my class, we’re currently reading Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl’s novel, Man’s Search for Meaning, which is pretty thought provoking. It’s about Frankl’s first hand account of his life in Auschwitz during World War 2. There’s a passage where Frankl overhears a man crying out in his sleep due to a nightmare. Frankl considers waking the man up but he realizes that the man’s nightmare cannot possibly be scarier than reality. This passage really stood out to me because it is a testament to how grim the conditions the concentration camps were. They were so bad that no nightmare could be as scary as real life. Humans ran the concentration camps. Humans were the ones inflicting torture and death upon other humans. Humans were the cause of all the suffering in the camps. In my opinion, humans are the scariest things in the world.

I am a big fan of horror movies and I’ve seen quite a few of them. The scariest horror movies I’ve seen were about humans. For example, The Silence of the Lambs is one of the creepiest movies I’ve ever seen. The monsters killing other humans in the movie were humans themselves. Buffalo Bill and Hannibal Lecter are two kinds of psychopathic maniacs.  Buffalo Bill was a deranged, wannabe transvestite who would capture overweight women, starve them, kill them, and skin them. Bill’s insanity is apparent and so he was caught (and killed). Hannibal Lecter, in my opinion, is the scarier and more dangerous of the two. Lecter killed and ate humans before he was finally caught. He is brilliant and appears to be quite rational when you talk to him, which only makes him even more dangerous. Lecter would be able to charm himself into your life and then would eat you without a second question. Many serial killers are so dangerous because their madness is not easily detectable.

Nature has given us many deadly enemies. When out hiking, you have to be wary for snakes, bears, coyotes, or mountain lions (depending on where you live). These animals could and can kill humans or cause them a great amount of pain. Although humans lack the deadly venom of snakes or the razor-sharp claws of bears, they are arguably more dangerous than animals. The animals’ danger is more apparent. When you see a deadly animal, your instinct is to run and get to safety. However, when you see another human being, your instinct usually does not tell you to run. Psychotic humans are usually able to blend in with the masses, which makes them infinitely more dangerous than anything else. They can be your best friend, your lover, your coworker, and your neighbor. One minute they can be laughing with you and the next, they will be plotting your demise.

The most dangerous people are the ones who appear the sanest. It’s why, when you turn on the TV after a shooting or a massacre, that you’ll see interviews of people who knew the killer. They’ll usually be professing their shock that the killer would have done something like this. “He seemed like such a nice boy.” “I can’t believe it, he had such a bright future.” But as disturbing as these tragedies are, we can’t help but to read or hear about them. No matter how disgusting or gruesome the killings are, we want to hear more. Humans are animals after all. We’re more sophisticated but we’re animals all the same. We still contain an inner bloodlust, no matter how small it may be. Many people love watching hockey because fights are expected. We take satisfaction out of humans pummeling each other. There’s no other reason that sports such as boxing or football are so popular. Wrestling is popular all over the world. True, not all humans have the compulsion to kill, but we all have a compulsion for violence. Our compulsion for violence combined with the coverage of killings may be why there seems to be so many high profile killings lately.

It seems like every other month, there will be news of a school shooting or a massacre of some sort. The Columbine High School shootings was the spark that ignited the entire flame. Even to this day, nearly fifteen years later, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold still live in infamy. It’s been fifteen years and people are still questioning why they did it. They were middle-class white males who had no real reason as to why they shot all those people. Many things were blamed such as bullying, the music they listened to, and violent video games. All these are utter bullshit. Eric and Dylan, as it turned out, were often the bullies not the victims. Many people around the world listen to heavy metal music and don’t turn out to be killers. The same can be said for violent video games. We love having a scapegoat but the truth is, they were mentally deranged who killed just because they could. There doesn’t need to be any other reason for it.

Since Columbine, there have been countless cases of mass murder. Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, and the Aurora shooting to list a few. The rise of the internet has led to incredibly rapid means of communication and news sharing. The killers can live on forever in infamy. We remember the names of Eric and Dylan, but how many of the victims’ names can we recall? The novel slash movie We Need to Talk About Kevin tackles these issues. Kevin Katchadourian, a fictional mass murderer, says:

“It’s like this: you wake and watch TV, get in your car and listen to the radio you go to your little jobs or little school, but you don’t hear about that on the 6 o’clock news, why? ‘Cause nothing is really happening, and you go home and watch some more TV and maybe it’s a fun night and you go out and watch a movie. I mean it’s got so bad that half the people on TV, inside the TV, they’re watching TV. What are these people watching? People like me.”

While his words are arrogant, they are true. The biggest news stories are usually about tragedy. When you hear or read the news, there are often more negative stories than positives. There seems to be tragedy after tragedy. Rarely are there news stories about positive things that are happening to people.

Humans are monsters. We’re often well disguised but we’re monsters nonetheless. We may be more sophisticated and technologically advanced than other animals but we still have our basic, animalistic instincts and urges. The monsters are the ones who are still remembered years and years later while the innocent are forgotten. In life, the monsters are the ones who win.

The Power of Music

I LOVE MUSIC. Yes, even though I am deaf, I passionately and most ardently (yes, Mr. Darcy is rubbing off of my vocabulary) love music. In the grand scheme of things, music preference is a strange thing. Some people like it when several musical notes are played in a certain progression while others absolutely despise that progression. But then again, the most excellent of novels are written with a variation of twenty-six letters arranged in some sort of way that is pleasing to the human imagination. Anything is weird when you deconstruct it.

I am not picky at all when it comes to music. I happen to enjoy music from all sorts of genres. It is a bit annoying to hear people say something along the lines of “I love all kinds of music except for country and rap!” If you limit yourselves off from any music genre, you are missing out. Admittedly, I don’t listen to a lot of country except for the occasional Dixie Chicks song but I am not opposed to listening to country. Rap is an amazing genre that has artists like Childish Gambino, Kanye West, Jay-Z, and so on. Sure, rap has a bad reputation for having racist, sexist, and any form of discriminatory lyrics. But doesn’t every single musical genre have those kinds of problems? You cannot tell me that every single band that falls under the “rock” genre all have healthy attitudes towards women. Or that every single band that falls under the “metal” genre all are completely anti-racism. In fact, metal is notorious for the rampant racism that is prominent in some of the more well known bands. There are problematic lyrics in every single genre.

Another thing that bugs me is music superiority. You are no way any better of a human being because you listen to Arcade Fire instead of Lady Gaga. I happen to listen to both of those artists and hey; there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Who the fuck cares? Listen to the music that is pleasing to your ears and let other people do the same. I do not have a problem with people not liking Lady Gaga due to the offensive nature of her lyrics or music videos. What I do have a problem with is people not liking Lady Gaga because she is a mainstream pop artist that has millions of fans. If you think you’re somehow better than those millions of fans that enjoy Lady Gaga, you are wrong and congrats, you’re also an asshole!

A major pet peeve of mine is when people bemoan the shitty state of music today. They proclaim that music from the earlier decades is somehow better than the music today. You’re kidding me right? First of all, way to insult all the bands that are active today. Second of all, every single decade has had their fair share of shitty music. It is the truly great bands that transcend time and are able to survive from sinking into obscurity. Do you honestly think a hundred years from now people will still be listening to Nicki Minaj or Katy Perry? As catchy as their music is, they are only popular in the present day. The Beatles withstood the test of time because their music is still able to be relatable by people today. Anyways, there are some truly phenomenal bands out there. If you think all current music sucks, you are not looking hard enough. There is something for everyone.

The wonderful thing about today’s society is how accessible music is. Back in the old days, it was a lot harder to be recognized and well known. Today, any person with a video camera and an instrument can get a following. Music is easier to learn these days due to all the tutorials that can be found online, such as on YouTube. You can listen to music on your iPod, car radio, CD player, and on the internet. Because it is a lot easier for bands to release music today, it can lead to an oversaturation of the market. However, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. You just have to get better at finding new music and there are so many choices to choose from. Back in my mom’s day, you were pretty much limited to what you could hear on the radio and saving up your allowance money for vinyl records. Today, music easier to get and some bands even choose to release their music for free! Modern technology is awesome.

Music is amazing. There’s something for everyone out there. Music also has curative powers since you can listen to happy, upbeat songs when you’re feeling sad or melancholy, low-key music to when you’re heartbroken. Music can also reflect a certain time of your life. For me, pop punk reminds me of my middle school days since that’s what I mainly listened to at the time. Music can also reflect a certain season since I have music playlists for the different seasons so certain songs or bands fit in with that particular theme. I listen to a lot of indie rock in the fall time such as Owen, Lydia, and Arcade Fire as well as Halloween soundtracks from movies such as The Nightmare Before Christmas. In the summer, I listen to loads of ultra upbeat pop music such as The Naked and Famous, Matt & Kim, blink-182, and so on. You get the idea. That doesn’t mean I listen to those bands exclusively during those seasons but those bands reflect the feelings I associate with those seasons. I will listen to Matt & Kim all year around, but I mostly listen to them during the summer time. Music has such incredible power to invoke certain feelings and moods.

I love music and I think music is amazing. I think people should not hesitate from broadening their music senses, as there is a plethora of music out there just waiting to be discovered. There are amazing bands from so many different countries around the world. The power of music is just incredible.

Also, if you have a last.fm account, you should totes friend me on there.

Human Cloning

Human cloning. It’s such a fascinating yet controversial subject. A hundred years ago, the mere concept of cloning was unthinkable. It was something only found in science fiction. Then, Dolly the sheep changed everything. Dolly proved that cloning was possible and feasible. It sparked a huge cloning debate. Just because cloning was possible, it didn’t necessarily mean that it ought to be done. Was it ethical to clone a live being? Were humans playing God? Should they play the role of God? Think about the mythical story of Icarus. Icarus built wings out of feathers and wax. When he flew too close to the sun, the wax melted and he fell back to the Earth. The story of Icarus serves as a cautionary tale against hubris. He flew too close to the sun (aka God) and fell back.

What happens when you defy God? The mythical story of Prometheus also warns us humans against this. Prometheus defied the gods when he gave fire and knowledge to humans. Zeus punished him by binding him to a rock where every day, an eagle would come and peck at his insides. It’s clearly a myth but it also serves as a cautionary tale. Perhaps outside forces don’t want us humans to know too much.

My fascination with cloning began at an early age. I was a huge fan of Margaret Peterson Haddix’s books after I devoured every single book of her Shadow Children series. Eager to read more, I came across one of her other books, Double Identity, at a bookstore. I came back home and read the entire book in a single sitting. Double Identity’s premise is that a girl, Bethany, suddenly finds out that she is the clone of her sister, Elizabeth, who had died years before Bethany was born. She was completely kept in the dark about her sister’s existence nor did she know that from her birth, her parents had been intentionally molding her to be exactly like her dead sister. She was given the same toys, went through similar experiences, and even had a similar name to her sister. However, Bethany did not turn out to be exactly like Elizabeth since Bethany was more introverted and Elizabeth was more outgoing. It’s a dark story but it’s so incredibly fascinating and disturbing. It brings up a really interesting point. Even though a person may be genetically identical to another person, it doesn’t mean they’ll be exactly the same.

Look at identical twins. Even though they may have similar personalities and a similar face, they are not the same person. While the average person may not be able to tell the twins apart, those close to the them are able to tell the difference. As they grow older and develop their own personalities, they are able to be distinguishable.

A fantastic show, Orphan Black, tackles these same issues. Even though the same actress, Tatiana Maslany, portrays every single clone on the show they are all distinguishably different. No two clones are exactly alike in how they dress or in their mannerisms. Although they are genetically identical, they all have different likes and dislikes, have different taste in romantic partners, and have led incredibly different lives. It raises a question of nature versus nurture. What people are born with versus how the environment has molded them.

Should cloning be legalized? Human cloning is not exactly illegal in the United States but it is not exactly encouraged either. Several states have banned cloning while others are silent on the matter. In some cases, I can see why cloning would be beneficial. A woman could clone herself, for example, and have a child if she didn’t have a male partner. The child she would raise would not be exactly like her although it would be genetically identical. The child would be raised in a different environment and different factors would shape the child’s personality.

However, cloning can get ugly really quickly. For human cloning to work, everyone in that society would have to treat the clones for what they are- human beings. If that society (or individual people within that society) has distorted views towards the clones, it would lead to huge problems. In Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel, Never Let Me Go, the main characters are human clones. They live in a society where human clones are merely tools for the people they are cloned from. The clones merely exist to be organ donors that allow the people they’re cloned from to live longer than usual. When the clones have donated all the organs they can, they are “completed,” die, and are discarded without a second thought. It’s a horrifying cycle that all the clones are subjected to. The clones are brainwashed into thinking this is an acceptable practice and they do not rebel. They merely exist to be used and then thrown away when they outlive their usefulness.

In theory, I have no problems with cloning. The actual act itself does not raise any ethical issues with me. However, it’s what comes next that cloning does become a problem. Not everyone shares the same views as I do and cloning very quickly becomes a problematic issue. I do not believe our current society is ready for human cloning. However, I do think that maybe one day in the future, human cloning can both be feasible and practical.