Selfish Excess

Regardless of any virtue you can find in the scientific skill, for me the center of this story of cloning a puppy is a vice.


But before I explain, let me say that I am not the type of person who gets very upset about economic inequality. Money is not a fixed sum. One person possessing a dollar doesn’t keep anyone else from having a dollar. So long as it is in a bank, possessing a dollar doesn’t even prevent people from possessing that same dollar. Wealth is not a bad thing, and money is neither an indicator of virtue or an indicator of vice.

But what you spend your money on is a reflection of the priorities and values of the spender. And that’s what gets me about cloning puppies for sentimental reasons.

First off, WHY? The cloned puppy will not be the same as the old puppy. And dog breeds are a real thing, so you can actually get a nearly identical puppy with very little effort.

Second, why is there such an attachment to this pet? It’s one thing to like pets, but it’s quite another thing to spend $100,000 for a sentimental gesture in the memory of a dog.

Finally, I think this an example of misplaced love and attention. And that is a vice. I hate to compare an actual event to a hypothetical better cause that I can’t prove was ignored. But still: WHY WASN’T THAT MONEY SPENT ON SOMETHING BETTER?

Call me crazy, but I think that as a whole, our love for pets is getting out of hand. I do not believe that our care for animals is an overflow of our general love for people. Instead, I think it is pets service as a replacement for people.

Pets are nice, but people are better. Pets can give joy and sadness, but people can give even more (of both). You can get rid of a pet, but you can’t get rid of a person. It seems like we have traded the tough and high-risk work of loving and caring for people with the much easier and low-risk pleasure of throwing our attention to pets.

Far be it from me to identify the actual dividing line and say “here is the spot where too much love and attention is given to pets compared to what is given to real people,” but I feel safe saying that if you spend $100,000 to clone a puppy, you’re over that nebulous line. I am not the first to worry about replacing people with pets in our lives. It can get strange.

We may like it in the short term, but throwing our time and attention to pets is a cheap replacement. Pets may or may not give true love to their owners. But regardless of how true it is, pet love is a cheap replacement of the real thing we were made for. It’s like a child who plays FIFA on PS4 inside, but can’t play a real game of soccer without feeling the heat of the activity, getting worn out, and becoming frustrated and bored. Happiness is cheap, but real joy only comes with a hefty dose of hardship.

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