Dear CBC Friends and Supporters,
Last week my new role as President of the CBC was announced; this week, I wanted to reach out and introduce myself to you in a more personal way.
Growing up in a medical family, more importantly, in a family full of curious people, I’ve always been interested in everything around me: science, literature, music, etc. In essence, the thoughts and ideas about how the world works. In fact, as a child, I voraciously read the entire contents of my local public library systemically: row by row, shelf by shelf. In particular, I was fascinated by advancements in technology, but not in the way you might imagine. While journals like Scientific American and Popular Mechanics focused on the wonders of emerging technology, my brain seemed hard-wired to find the possible negative consequences of these advancements. Perhaps it was my obsession with anything science-fiction (that merged my two major interests: science and literature) that made me so trepidatious.
The value of science fiction is that (inevitably) the creators would find the dark cloud to the silver lining of technology whether they intended to or not. (Let’s face it, the failure of technology in science fiction does help to move a plot forward). Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein’s Monster explores the consequences of a medical scientist playing God with the human form. Phillip K Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (popularized in the film Bladerunner) asks if synthetic humans/cyborgs have a soul, if they are as deserving of existence as we ourselves are. Films like Terminator warn against the possible sentience of AI. In all these examples, these man-made creations always turn against their creator: us. Even Isaac Asimov’s “Three Laws of Robotics” limiting the danger of robots to humans wasn’t reassuring to me. I somehow always knew that we were in dangerous territory when we imagined ourselves as powerful as gods. I always knew there would be a consequence, a price to pay for defying the natural laws of this world (we are on the cusp of finding out just how dangerous these explorations are). People frequently laughed at my concerns and called me a “luddite”. But, it’s not that I was (or am now) opposed to good science and technology, especially safe, tested, proven medical technologies that help humanity to live long, productive and healthy lives. Who wouldn’t want that? Nevertheless, the world around me promoted the idea of ALL technological advancements as a human good without exception. Meanwhile, my unease grew.
A few years before the start of the Covid lockdowns, I became aware that science was no longer following the rules of scientific inquiry. Biological facts such as sex were being publicly decried, and traditional science (factual, testable, open to criticism, dependent on material reality) was disavowed and then rebranded to be thrust into the public sphere as a political tool. My unease grew into full-blown panic. Why would indisputable facts be disputed? What was the meaning and purpose of these egregious and almost comical assertions be? As I dove in to research these topics, at the bottom of this wormhole (very otherworldly), I found the philosophy of Transhumanism. It’s not that I hadn’t encountered the word before or its tenets in science fiction literature, art, and film: I simply hadn’t realized that what I took to be imaginative and entertaining fictions were permeating all of human society: science, technology, education, law, culture, etc. to enforce a bizarre, twisted and inhuman world view onto us. Furthermore, it terrified me to realize that this philosophy had gone global.
It was then that my research began to evolve into what would eventually become my documentary film: “Altered Humans: How Biotech is Changing Who We Are” [hyperlink film]. As I searched for experts on biotech, bioethics, and transhumanism to interview for my film, my Associate Producer, Joey Brite insisted that I speak to CBC founder, Jennifer Lahl. It was an extraordinary meeting and interview: Jennifer impressed me as an articulate speaker with a keen understanding of the issues I was grappling with. By the end of the 3 hour session, we became friends and enthusiastically agreed that we’d like to collaborate on a future film together. I was astounded by the work the CBC was doing (and also amazed I didn’t know about it…which is an issue we must address). Frankly, I was both grateful and relieved that there was an institution and network of like-minded people (like you!) who not only had the same concerns and questions I had, but were devoted to educating medical experts (through the Paul Ramsey Institute) and the public about the ethics and dangers of emerging biotechnologies (through podcasts, speaking engagements, and films) and also the philosophy of Transhumanism. Little did I know at the time, many months later, that Jennifer would recruit me to take on her role at the CBC.
Now, I don’t have to tell any of you what a rockstar Jennifer is. She’s a mover, a shaker, a visionary, and ultimately, a defender of humanity. In her address at the September 24 th , 2023 Paul Ramsey Gala, Jennifer gave a speech entitled: “The Little Engine that Could”. As we all know, Jennifer is more like a fiery rocket than a “little engine”, but it’s true that the CBC has had humble beginnings. Emerging out of Jennifer’s Master’s project 23 years ago, The Center for Bioethics and Culture, has grown steadily and for a small organization has had far-reaching influence. She’s even been able to address Congress and the UN alike on issues such as: the inhumanity of surrogacy and the dangers of IVF. But the fact remains, we are still a small organization despite the many successes achieved during Jennifer’s tenure. We rely on you, our many wonderful supporters and donors to make all our achievements possible. It’s because of your loyalty and support that the CBC exists at all. And though we’ve done so much with so little, we hope to do so much more. Hence our new strategy to go from the little-engine-that- could to a barreling freight-train that no barrier can withstand.
Through many conversations with Jennifer Lahl (our Founder), and Kallie Fell (our Executive Director) and Kirstin Wallace (our Development Executive), we have identified key areas of growth that we’d like to focus on. Mostly importantly, it is essential that we compete online to spread our excellent content to reach more supporters:
EDUCATION = CONTENT CREATION + OUTREACH
In short: we intend to be the first organization that comes to mind when people think of bioethics.
We have devised a plan to: radically grow our social media (essential in the age of the internet) with repurposed content; to grow our supporter and donor base through marketing our content; make our content more easily accessible; create new content and partnerships; focus on launching initiatives (we will be announcing these in the months to come); and expand our mandate to focus on opposing Transhumanism, which is the philosophical umbrella that all of our critical work fundamentally falls under.
I am speaking to you frankly when I say: humanity is under attack. I am not over-stating the stakes. The essence of human beings, our very existence, is under threat. We are likely in the greatest culture war that humanity has ever faced. The only effective way to fight back is to create an opposing culture, a counter-culture, one that values the core of what it means to be human. This is a call to action. It’s a challenge the CBC is willing to take up with great vigor, dedication, and responsibility. This is our commitment to you, our friends and supporters, our fellow culture soldiers in arms.
As much as I loved my time in Hollywood as a Development Producer, Director, and Writer, with a great deal of respect for my colleagues and collaborators, I often felt that there was something missing: a greater purpose to my content creation. I now realize that Hollywood served as the ultimate training ground for these culture wars. There could be no better place to learn how to create eye-catching, moving, and meaningful content. It taught me how to write contracts, to negotiate, to assess and identify talent, to function as an effective leader, and most importantly: to tell compelling stories. Doesn’t communication ultimately boil down to the stories we tell one another about our lives? What is the story of being human? That is the story we will endeavor to tell.
I know transitions are difficult. I know there is change all over the world right now and even more change on the horizon. War is breaking out. Struggle is everywhere. It can feel overwhelming. It is overwhelming. However, this is a time to steady ourselves with our core values. It’s a time to fill our lives with meaning and purpose. Goals and objectives help see us through uncertain times. We need to focus on the things (no matter how small) that make an impact. We need to support the people and organizations that are willing to fight for our humanity, even when we ourselves feel as if we can’t.
Remember, organizations are much like human beings. They go through cycles, they evolve, and grow, and are subject to external and internal pressures. It’s impossible for the longevity of an organization to only ever have one leader (nor would that be fair to the leader). Transhumanists are obsessed with longevity and ever-lasting life: fundamentally as much as they tout change, they fear it. To be human is to accept change: to accept the seasons of our lives. The CBC is going through such a change too. I hope you will stay with us as we necessarily evolve.
Having worked with the brilliant, dedicated, hard-working employees and Board of Directors of the CBC this past month, I can personally tell you that Jennifer has over the years recruited a team of outstanding people to do just that: be a voice of light in dark days. (And remember, she’s not leaving either, simply evolving her role from leader to a foundational Board Member whom we will continue to rely on for advice and guidance).
I know you don’t know me. I’m new, an unknown quantity, a wind of change. You may feel that there’s no reason for you to trust me…yet. I understand. That’s why I’m inviting you to get to know me. I’ll be writing an entry every week right here in this newsletter. I’ll be at the exciting events we are planning for 2024 (come meet me in person!). I will be part of events online, and a lot more than that to be announced!
I’m not just honored to be a part of the CBC, I’m thrilled. Despite the difficult and dark days ahead we may face, I cannot be anything but optimistic when I know we’ll be facing them together.
There is so much hope for our shared human future.
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