I saw the Age of Ultron a few days ago, and it had kind of a weird (likely unique) and unexpected effect on me that I feel the need to vent. For most of my life I’ve had low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy, an inferiority complex and even self-loathing. Most of the time these feelings are just bubbling beneath the surface, and when they begin to intrusively intrude on my conscious mind it’s usually brought on by a personal failure. However, when I watched Age of Ultron these feelings were brought out my perception of Dr. Helen Cho, who appears to be such a highly and yet achievable idealized Human being.
Let me explain. To achieve her position as a high ranking medical researcher she would have to have spent the majority of her waking life working towards it from a very young age, and then spends the majority of her waking life working to advance medical technology. When a wage slave has to spend most of their waking hours working just to sustain themselves and their families, I find that sad. But when a professional dedicates their life to something because they value the work itself and their paycheck is only incidental, I find that very admirable. Dr. Cho clearly works long and hard hours because her work is her passion. She’s happily sacrificed rest, relaxation, socialization or any other interests she might have since childhood in order to achieve her professional goals. I don’t have that kind of passion or dedication, and I kind of wish I did.
What makes her professional goals all the more admirable is that she’s clearly working on bioprinting, even if it’s not depicted 100% realistically in the movie. It’s not a made up technology, nor is it something nefarious. Bioprinting is real and advancing fast, and is poised to revolutionize medicine. Dr. Cho’s work will save millions of lives and improve the quality of living for millions more, and it is something that real people are actually working on.
Lastly, and probably least importantly, she is also beautiful. She is a professionally, morally and cosmetically ideal Human, but unlike the Superhumans in the movie she is an obtainable ideal. If I were willing to go six figures into debt to put myself through school, and had the drive to endure long and stressful hours of classes and study for years followed by long and stressful hours of scientific research, as well as completely uproot myself from my current life, it’s not impossible I could become a scientist who could help create something that would ease or eliminate suffering and improve the quality of Human existence. I could never be as brilliant as Dr. Cho since her innate intelligence is clearly superior to mine, but I could get a lot closer than I currently am.
But I’m not going to do that. I’m very easily stressed, irritated and frustrated. I think I might even have some kind of anxiety disorder. I avoid financial commitments as much as possible and accruing over 100 000 dollars in debt would make me very uncomfortable, since I have no confidence that I would ever be able to pay it back. The stress of such intense schooling and work would make me physically sick and I doubt I could keep it up for long. I think I could get a Masters Degree in something if I wanted , so long as it didn't involve complex math, but I probably wouldn't be able to get a Ph. D. Even if I did, I probably wouldn't be a very good doctor. Many doctors pay a heavy cost to their mental and physical health, and my frail constitution means I would probably suffer these ill effects worse than most. That’s not a sacrifice I’m willing to make, and I consider that a moral failing.
The time demands would also likely require I give up my writing, which is the only thing I do that really matters to me. Instead of creating something that could save lives, I make silly sci-fi stories that so far only a few people liked strongly enough to rate. It’s unlikely I’ll ever achieve my dream of a decent sized fanbase, and even if I do that’s a selfish dream that benefits no one but me. I am a lazy, decadent, selfish little boy and if I could be like anyone in Age of Ultron it would be Helen Cho. She’s a brilliant, beautiful scientist who’s selflessly dedicated herself to achieving an exceedingly noble goal that will improve and extend the lives of billions. She’s not a fantasy, there our real people like her and I could be like her too if I had the fortitude of character. It is probably possible my issues could be overcome, but not anytime soon.
Now I know that few people ever become as self-actualized as Dr. Cho (I’m defining self-actualization has achieving the greatest positive impact possible). Three billion people don’t even have jobs, and most of the four billion that do probably don’t find their work any more meaningful than mine. I’m normally absurdist about it, that it’s only tragic if I try to find meaning in it and by accepting its meaningless I can live with it, but sometimes I think how much more I could accomplish.
Relative to the average person I’m not really that huge of a failure, and there are probably a lot of people worse than I am. I know that scientists like Dr. Cho are only able to do what they do because there's an entire society beneath them. We can't all be scientists, someone's gotta do the grunt work. But I know that I personally could be better, and I try to be better, and sometimes I really hate that I’m not the person I want to be. I will never be as intelligent, as educated, as dedicated, as altruistic, as accomplished, as satisfied, as confident, as ambitious, as hard-working, as serene, as happy, as pleasant, as beautiful or just plain as perfect as Dr. Cho. She is in my perception just an absolutely perfect Human being and even though I know she's fictitious I know that it is possible to obtain that degree of perfection, and I don't think I really have a good excuse as to why I haven't.
I am not going to become a scientist in the foreseeable future, or likely at all, but I have a great admiration for those who dedicate themselves to technological progress. I've read science sites every day since I was a teenager, and I subscribe to many science channels on Youtube. It's mostly science and creepypasta, actually. I love science, but I'm not a scientist, and I have to be okay with that.
Disease has always been the greatest killer of Human beings.We live in a world where Humanity’s greatest enemies cannot be defeated by Hulks or Iron Men or Super Soldiers or long dead gods. Only knowledge can help us defeat disease, and it is because of real people like Helen Cho that we’ve advanced as far as we have and are likely to advance a lot further.
Scientist will always be my word for hero.