Later that day, the Dean of Student Affairs took Corey to the central administrative offices before dinner. Part of the student council watched them go, but for the most part the student body saw nothing unusual as they headed to the dining halls for dinner. Mealtime conversations drifted away from genomics and back to the chatter that occupied the daily lives of Roosevelt’s students.
Jay, Leo, Jinx, Erica, and Derek chose to eat in the conference room, their minds still occupied by the events of the day. For a while, they ate in silence, punctuated by the occasional, “pass a napkin” or “who has the hot sauce?” Finally, Erica turned to Derek.
“You’re not curious at all?” she asked him. Everyone else looked up.
Derek shrugged. “Not really,” he answered. “Part of me wants to know, but most of me doesn’t think it’s worth everyone else’s trouble. Besides, I figure it would only tell me something I already knew, and what’s the point in that?”
Jinx paused, a forkful of food halfway to her mouth. “Do you think we did the right thing? Protecting everyone’s feelings but in a way hindering science?”
“Science is headed into dangerous territory anyway,” commented Leo. “When we unravel the secrets of our genes, what’s left? It’ll tear apart all our social structures as people call for genetic equality — which, if we allow to happen, would mean the reversal of millions of years of evolution. How close can we get without ruining life as we know it?”
“That’s awfully grim,” said Jay. “But knowing what might make intelligence — isn’t that important?”
“Of course it is,” Erica affirmed. “But think about it this way: we live in a world that wants to believe that all men are created equal. Equal how? In our genes, it’s clear that each of us is different, for better or for worse. To say gene in particular makes a person smart — a trait we like in today’s society — would destroy our version of equality. That’s what Leo’s saying — it would lead to a crisis in our social structure. But you have a point. We’re curious by nature, and we’re curious about nature. We want to know everything. Maybe one day we will figure out how genes affect our intelligence. I just don’t think society is ready for it yet.”
“Society wasn’t ready for the atomic bomb, either,” commented Jinx. “Not that I’m saying this is good or bad.”
“Well that proves my point,” said Erica. “Science created something that society wasn’t ready for. We used it to end a war, then we locked it up and tried to enforce ethical limitations on the use of that technology. So now what? We’re left in a Cold War that supposedly ended decades ago, but we’re all just sitting on nuclear warheads wondering if it’s safe to get rid of them or if society will demand that we use them again one day.”
“It’s a Pandora’s box,” said Leo thoughtfully. “We’re curious as to what’s inside, but we’re afraid of opening it and letting loose terrible things into the world.”
They all ate in silence following this thought.
“Why do we need proof of our intelligence?” asked Derek of no one in particular. “Isn’t the fact that we’ve been at this school for three years proof enough?”