Monday, August 17, 2009

Converting from Shy to Outgoing and fun

"It was not easy and took A LOT of effort and awkward situations, but I did it!"

How I did it:

Last January I decided it was time to make a life change. One of my New Year's resolutions was to shake my shyness off completely. I had gone 18 years of my life being shy and I was sick of it! I hated being silent and awkward all the time. I hated to hide my true self and smile and blush. I hated people thinking that I was weird and socially awkward. I needed to change.

The first step of my process was to take a class that would force me to break out of my shell a little bit. So I enrolled in Acting for the next semester. I was scared at first but relieved to know that I was taking a step for the best.

I knew that it would take more than an acting class to cure my shyness so the next step was to look inward and find the cause of it. I interviewed several former shy people to see how they did it. They gave me simple steps to start out with and offered guidance to help me find the cause. After a month of searching, I finally found the cause. The cause was that I cared too much about what people thought about me and I had some confidence issues.

One of the things I started to do was to say "Hi" and "How are you?" to random strangers. I started out with just one person a day. While on my runs I would say hi to people that I passed. It soon progressed to greeting people on the bus and carrying on conversations while I rode to school.

The acting class was great and I learned some great things but I was still not quite out of my shell. In May I got a girlfriend and I met some of her friends and they didn't think I was too shy. A week later I had an opportunity to go to Idaho with her for two and a half weeks, meet all her friends and her mom.

I was nervous but decided to go anyway. While in Idaho I met her friends and they were very cool and outgoing. I was probably at the halfway point of shy and outgoing. People still saw me as quiet.

I returned home in Utah and decided that there was no going back to my shyness. It was time to change all the way. I went on a series of trips this summer that demanded continual conversation and outgoing behavior. I went on a retreat that lasted one week, there were 42 people and no one knew each other (which was a big relief). And there were continual deep discussions about racism and inequality. It was extremely emotional and it was almost like they forced you to be social. It was Inclusion Summit, I highly recommend it. By the end of the week, everyone was so close and it was so sad to leave. Since then I have still kept in touch with many of the people I met there.

After this trip I found a new love for dancing and I continue to dance. I also talked to more outgoing people to see how they transitioned to outgoing. I found that if I acted like someone was my best friend than it would be easier to talk to them.

I now feel like I am no longer shy and I can walk up to anyone and start a conversation (even girls of interest). I feel that the real problem was that I was afraid to show my true self and now that has changed. Never give up on your quest to become outgoing, it is so worth it in the end.

"A stranger is just a person you haven't met yet."

Lessons & tips:

  • Start Small. Make a goal to talk to one stranger a day, even if you only say hi.
  • Put yourself out there. When there is an opportunity to have fun with a group of people, take advantage of it.
  • Pretend like you are talking to your best friend when you approach a stranger. It will give you lots of things to talk about.
  • People love to talk about themselves. Ask them questions that will allow them to talk about themselves.
  • Find common ground. Ask what their interests are and find out about them.
  • Don't be afraid to speak your mind.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I am My Twin Brother's Father (Ethics of Cloning)

In 1996, a so-called scientific breakthrough occurred, Dolly, a sheep, was born. By now, almost everyone has heard of this sheep, it was the first successful clone that used an adult cell. These scientists didn’t fully know the amount of impact this would cause in the scientific community. According to Ronald Bailey, scientists in Oregon claimed to have cloned monkeys and suggested the possibility of human cloning. Upon receive this interesting information, “President Clinton rushed to ban federal funding of human cloning research” (Bailey, par. 2). Bailey states that Clinton banned “federal funding” until the “National Bioethics Advisory Commission issues a report on the ethical implications of human cloning” (Bailey, par. 2). This was just the beginning of the endless debate.

To start, there are two distinct types of cloning that need to be addressed. The first, therapeutic cloning is a rather selfish method of cloning. Robert Sparrow explains, “Therapeutic cloning is hypothetical cloning of an individual for the purpose of procuring tissues from the clone, which will serve some therapeutic purpose in relation to the person cloned…typically involves the creation of a human embryo with the intention of later destroying it” (Sparrow, 2). This explanation can be demonstrated with an example: Imagine a doctor’s office where you go in and they take a sample of your DNA. They create a clone using your DNA, but alter it and take out the instructions to be conscious. The clone is conceived but instead of sending it to a loving home, they send it to a storage freezer located in the office. Now, this may sound a little gruesome and unethical, but for just a low storage fee per month you have the perfect insurance policy. If anything goes wrong with your organs throughout your life, with the exception of your brain, you have a perfect donor match, your clone. Balwant Rai addresses this example, “Human cloning would solve the problem of finding a transplant donor who is an acceptable organ or tissue match and would eliminate, or drastically reduce, the risk of transplant rejection by the host” (Rai, par. 6). This example may have possibly been a little extreme, but at least it gets the basic understanding of therapeutic cloning across.

The second and more humane method of cloning is called reproductive cloning. Sparrow also explains this very well: “Reproductive cloning aims at the creation of a whole person in order to satisfy the reproductive desires of some couple or individual” (Sparrow, 2). This method is significantly easier to understand. It is basically cloning to create an additional member of the family.

Cloning can be seen as ethical. Sparrow includes three scenarios where he feels cloning would indeed be ethical. The first scenario: “one or both members of a heterosexual couple are unable to make a genetic contribution to the genotype of a child because of their failure to produce or possess viable gametes” (Sparrow, 3). The second scenario, “where the inability to provide viable gametes results from a same sex couple, or perhaps even a single person, being unwilling to allow another person to make a genetic contribution to the process of reproduction” (Sparrow, 4). Finally, the last scenario, “a couple who have already conceived a child and who are unable to conceive another by any means. By cloning their existing child they could provide him/her with an identical sibling, that would be related to both his/ her parents” (Sparrow, 4). Some scenarios may be more ethical than others, but this is certain, all can be resolved in less controversial ways such as artificial insemination or adoption. Sparrow points out some interesting psychological effects the clone may have: “The ‘genetic relation’ between siblings, who share roughly half their DNA with each other, is the same as the relation between parents and their children” (Sparrow, 6). When considering cloning we have to think about the relationship of clones to siblings, siblings to siblings, and parents to children. Sparrow suggests that, “Even if I am related to my clone, my parents are more related in the appropriate way” (Sparrow, 8). He explains that if you had a clone of yourself, your parents should have the parental rights over it simply because it would be like having a late twin. In a way, being a parent over your clone would be like trying to be a parent over one of your siblings. Sparrow states that your parents could possibly even have a custody battle over your clone in the courts system. This could even bring up political issues because our supreme courts would have to create laws concerning clones in society. We see this today with seragent mothers. Luckily, He clears that possibility up by stating, “it is the intention to bring the child into the world that makes the donor the parent” (Sparrow, 8). Having a clone would be almost exactly like having a twin, and “no one has argued that twins are immoral” (Bailey, par. 7). According to Rai, “Human cloning and research on human cloning might make possible important advances in scientific knowledge” (Rai, par. 6).
Cloning can also be seen as unethical. It seems there are a lot more reasons for cloning to be unethical then for it to be ethical. The basic unit for cloning to be possible starts with the blastocyst, which is full of stem cells. Joe Leigh Simpson says, “If the blastocyst…is defined as a person, therapeutic cloning is not ethically considered acceptable” (Simpson, 1). Like cloning, stem cell research is a very controversial subject and a whole different paper could be written on it. Basically there are many people who believe blastocysts are in fact humans, so it limits the studies that scientists can do with them. In having a clone industry, “demand for babies with outstanding intelligence, strength, beauty etc., would create an industry of fetuses which would be sold to potential parents desiring such children” (Rai, par. 3). Rai also warns, “there will be the threat of a ‘black market’ for fetuses created from people with ‘positive’ characteristics” (Rai, par. 3). If the “black market” accepted babies then this could raise many more ethical issues concerning placing a price tag on a human being. Some people could abuse the child’s rights and make them slaves. Another interesting thing pointed out was the possibility of cloning Hitler or other historical figures: the “clone of a particularly exemplary individual, perhaps with some special capabilities and accomplishments, he or she may experience excessive pressure to reach the very high standards of ability and accomplishments of the [donor]” (Rai, par. 8). In a mixed family of clones and “normal” children, the clones may contribute to the feeling of “inadequacy among siblings who do not share a parents genome” (Rai, par. 9). The child would be a twin of one of the parents. Now, how do you think this could make the clone or the siblings feel? Bailey describes a more practical effect cloning could have: “if enough human beings were cloned, pathogens would likely adapt and begin to get the upper hand, causing widespread disease” (Bailey, par. 16). Diversity in DNA is key to our survival against disease. Bailey is saying that if we all had the same genes, diseases could easily become wide spread, even to the point of destroying a civilization. Since we all have different genes, diseases have a much harder time destroying us.

In conclusion, cloning has profound ethical issues surrounding it. Each side, whether you are arguing if it’s ethical or not, has very convincing viewpoints. It is very hard to even guess where this conversation is going to end up. There are many things to put into consideration on this topic. In the future there is a great possibility that cloning research will have federal funding, it just depends on if the benefits outweigh the consequences. Who knows, maybe we will clone Abraham Lincoln, Einstein, or even Jesus Christ.

Works Cited
Bailey, Ronald. "The twin paradox." Reason 29.1 (May 1997): 52. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. WSU Stuart Library, Ogden, UT. 23 Sep. 2008 .

Rai, Balwant, et al. "Human Clone: Who Is Related To Whom." Internet Journal of Law, Healthcare & Ethics 4.2 (23 Feb. 2007): 1-1. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. WSU Stuart Library, Ogden, UT. 23 Sep. 2008 .

Simpson, Joe Leigh. "Could cloning become permissible." Reproductive BioMedicine Online 14 (02 Feb. 2007): 125-129. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. WSU Stuart Library, Ogden, UT. 23 Sep. 2008 .

Sparrow, Robert. "CLONING, PARENTHOOD, AND GENETIC RELATEDNESS." Bioethics 20.6 (Nov. 2006): 308-318. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. WSU Stuart Library, Ogden, UT. 23 Sep. 2008 .