I had the opportunity to converse with a young scientist, and I asked him to explain how science “polices” itself. I wanted to understand why so many scientific discoveries lead to tremendous destruction – like the atomic bomb, and bullets that travel around corners to hit human targets, etc. He told me it was not the science, but the engineers who created with the scientific discovery…and I asked, “Isn’t this is an excuse? If I created something I wouldn’t want it to slip into the hands of people who might use it to foul end. Isn’t this taking compartmentalization a bit too far”?
He tried to convince me of the importance of the scientific method and how the scientists strive to maintain that stringent and high mark. He told me it was the media and the corporations who misused science. I was impressed by his loyalty and I found in it something we share. I remembered my first tastes of loyalty – to my high school football team, to my church, to my country…and I remembered how hard it was to admit when those I had been loyal to had let me down. “It may be time to examine where your loyalty has been placed”, I said, knowing how hard this had been and sometimes still is for me, yet knowing it is a critical moment we all must face. I said, “It is important we find a way to be loyal to our humanity first”.
This is not simply the problem with the field of science, but of all human endeavor. We avert our attention when things become uncomfortable. We deny our compliancy when in fact it was our thinking, our desires, our need for power or our willingness to compromise that brought us to this moment.
Not a pretty moment in our history, but one that can be turned around.
We must find a way to uphold our humanity in uncompromising ways.
Loyalty is not the problem. Science is not the problem. Allowing inhumanity to usurp our endeavors is a problem, and it will take of each, regardless of our walk in life, to end the compromise.
The question remains, in what will we, do we, place our loyalty?