This family history exercise has taken me back a thousand years but there is another deeper approach.
Human DNA can trace us back to a series of major migrations out of Africa commencing around 400,000 years ago. My genes have been busy evolving deep within my antecedents and culminated in me – you may ask was it worth all that effort?
In 2015 I provided a sample of my DNA and paid $99 to find out more from the Genographic Project (via National Geographic).
One half of my twenty-three chromosomes came from my father and the other half from my mother. These are said by psychologists to predetermine or predispose certain of our features and characteristics, including attributes evident at birth such as eye, hair and skin colour. Not that ‘at birth’ was very informative for me as I was blonde and blue eyed for my first few years, both turning brown later. The hair of course settled for grey later still.
Our genes also determine our vulnerability to events such as hair loss, certain diseases and our life expectancy – not that this stops the pharmaceutical companies endeavouring to tinker with these. Nativists ponder how far this genetic inheritance extends in shaping our intellect and mental capacities, perhaps colouring our opinions, attitudes and approaches to life. Rather unsatisfactorily they appear to conclude simplistically that the earlier a trait appears during our development then the more likely it is to have been from our genes.
Of course our attributes are also heavily shaped and determined by our nurturing. Certainly our first three years is generated by our parents. They also play a significant role through the next twelve to fifteen years while most of us live at home and are battling through third-party education.
So parenting passes on the genetic markers deep within us and then plays a major role in our nurturing. Fifteen years of our 70-year promised lifespan, equates to over 20% of our life, therefore making our parents’ role highly significant.