First came the movie, Jurassic Park, and the fictional cloning of dinosaurs. Then we learned of the real duplicating of Dolly, the Scottish sheep, and latter the cloning of a half dozen American dairy cows. Just as we were adjusting to the cloning of animals, a couple of weeks ago, I watched a documentary on the pharaohs of Egypt. The program was about an American researcher who had taken samples of DNA from many of the pharaohs and their family members to trace the lineage of the various royal families.
The documentary ended with the researcher musing over the possibility of creating a present-day pharaoh. He thought that we could benefit from the leadership abilities and other personal characteristics of any one of several Egyptian pharaohs. As the show's credits ran at the end of the program, I munched upon my chips covered with low-fat melted mozzarella. As I ate, I thought about the value of a regenerated pharaoh and doubted seriously whether we would benefit from that particular addition to the world's population.
As I went back to the kitchen for seconds, I wondered about the concept of bringing back the greats of the past to live again in our midst. I agreed with the DNA researcher that there is a leadership void not just in Washington but throughout much of the world. Even though I didn't want to clone pharaohs, other possible candidates danced in my brain as the cheese quickly melted over another plate of the chips. I rushed back to my computer to write out a list of potential DNA donors that could possibly improve our world.
Before you continue this article, write down your list of a half dozen past leaders who we might consider cloning for the benefit of our world and the new millennium. You will find my list at the end of this column.
Granted, we are some years away from working out the technical details so that we could clone former leaders, but there is a way that we can approximate cloning right now. Years ago, someone asked the writer, Somerset Maugham, how to become a great writer. Maugham's response was a form of cloning. He said to read a lot of different books and then select the author that you liked best. Next, Maugham said to copy word for word one of that author's books.
This may seem a strange way to become a great writer. However, Maugham believed that you would learn the style of your favorite author through copying a book. Then when you would write, that style would become yours. Finally, you would merely combine your own words, ideas, and story with your favorite author's style.
I am proposing essentially the same thing. Take your list of quality people and next to each of their name's write their characteristics that you most admire in them. Surely, our world would be enriched by the addition of those characteristics. Instead of waiting around for their potential cloning, you can become their clone, and it can be done without any of their DNA. All that you need to do is to become like the person who you admire. Put into practice Maugham's suggestions for writers. Instead of writing in the style of your favorite author, act in the manner of those on your list.
Suppose you chose someone who was caring and supportive. Behave like that caring person when dealing with those around you-even when you might not feel like it. Or if you admire another person's determination, take that characteristic and make it a part of your life by not giving up at the first sign of opposition. If your list contains a person who could work with people to get things done, then take upon yourself that style of leadership.
Our world needs many leaders and their personalities from the past. However, why wait until we work through the technical and ethical problems of cloning them? Why not clone those personal characteristics that you most admire for your life. The world will be blessed by those additions to your character, and you will be blessed with a truly remarkable you.
If you e-mail your list of six potential clonees, I will include the names of those that are sent to me in a future column. Here are my six: Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Mother Theresa, Robert Kennedy, Henry Ward Beecher, and Helen Keller.