“Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die. “
–Alfred Lord Tennyson
Mankind is presumably the highest species inhabiting the earth and is generally thought to consist of a few leaders and many followers. In ages past, a premium was placed on conformity. Natural law declares survival for the fittest. The establishment has traditionally suggested a dangerous lack of fitness must be done away with before it can spread. Those who successfully struggled their way to the top know best. Through enforced ignorance the masses were kept rigidly in line to ensure survival of civilization and its ruling hierarchies. Then, in a relative instant, a vast knowledge explosion occurred as the age of science and reason dawned. The ensuing revolution in human thinking made leaders accountable for their actions and allowed followers to fearlessly ask just where they were being led and for what reason. Today we are in the midst of great behavioral sciences experiments while before us lies a perilous but promising future.
In the present age, humanity’s main concern is rightfully the prevention of a nuclear holocaust. The question of routine circumcision may seem a comparatively minor issue, worthy of barely more than a casual mention – hardly subject matter for an entire book. Yet circumcision is a time-honored institution that interacts directly with powerful sex drives, therefore demanding intense study of what the various attitudes concerning it reveal about our inner selves. In truth, does not the indiscriminate lopping off of any normal body structure, quite apart from whatever arbitrarily designated religious values it may imply, represent an expression of utter contempt for nature? Shouldn’t it be plain that for genuine satisfaction in life to be realized, man and nature must work harmoniously together, and in fact can do so at any level of technological development? What is ultimately to be gained by seeking escape from reality?
Symbolically speaking, circumcision is an issue to which we can all relate in some way. In my own case, I had experienced a difficult childhood. It seemed that everyone, parents, teachers and friends alike, had let me down, with nowhere to turn except toward my uncertain perception of God. In Sunday school I had been taught that the best way to discover the Almighty was by reading the Bible, so at the age of twelve I began at the beginning with the Book of Genesis. Needless to say, I didn’t get very far before encountering strange new words about which I was afraid to ask. But I knew how to use the dictionary and shortly was able to figure out why all boys were not alike. With scarcely more than a vestige of childlike innocence remaining, I somehow discovered within myself the instinctive conviction that a truly loving, infinitely intelligent heavenly Father could never be so inconsistent as to create man one way and then want him another. Much later in life, I learned that the popular religious argument in favor of circumcision states that God did not make man exactly as he wanted him because it is man’s duty to perfect himself through the fulfillment of a divine command. Fortunately by this time I had outgrown my anthropomorphic concept of a Deity and was able to see the physical perfection of man in his unaltered form as an inspiration for the striving to manifest spiritual perfection through thinking and doing good instead of evil.
The American public, so overwhelmed by materialistic values and motives, is in the process of being informed that routine circumcision is medically unnecessary and even harmful. The media has done a cautious but good job of covering a subject which until recently was avoided like the plague. Independent volumes published within the past few years have presented in a well documented and extremely convincing manner the facts about circumcision upon which this book serves to reinforce and expand. But if it takes a woman to view this most masculine topic in a thoroughly objective manner, then for this reason alone we should be grateful that Rosemary Romberg has written her treatise. The sincere reader will, however, have many more reasons to develop a profound sense of gratitude. In her capacity as an experienced mother, the author presents her subject as only one in her position can, for that wonderfully feminine quality known as motherly love motivates an intimate concern for the feelings and security of the helpless newborn. And yet her viewpoint is broad enough to see the controversy for what it really is, essentially not a medical debate at all, but rather a question of whether or not individual freedom of choice should be preserved in an age where the acknowledgement of infants’ rights is increasingly regarded as a practical prerequisite to becoming a parent. Ms. Romberg is further blessed with sufficient modesty to realize that her book is by no means the last word on circumcision. Research into the operation’s hidden psychological consequences is just starting to gain a measure of priority, so Romberg’s primary purpose is to provide a much needed impetus for further scientific investigation.
At the beginning I wrote of leaders and followers. If we are going to use labels at all, then the number of categories must be made adequate. It appears now that another distinct variety of human beings is emerging who are intent on neither leading nor following the mainstream, and demonstrably capable of conscientious self government. People of this exciting new breed ask simply for the privilege of being themselves without interference. It is primarily in recognition of people such as this, including those yet unborn, that this book has been written.
Jeffrey R. Wood
Founder of INTACT Educational Foundation