A Writer’s Diary – One Tenth Of One Percent

…for good or evil, we are a single people: the more we become conscious of this, the less difficult and long will be humanity’s progress toward justice and peace.

Primo Levi (July 31, 1919 – April 11, 1987)

BB1FF4B5-A150-4942-B7DB-C0717128B26CSomething we learned from the Human Genome Project is that the entire 7.5 billion-member human species goes back 7,000 generations to an original population of about 60,000 people. Our species has only a modest amount of genetic variation — the DNA of any two humans is 99.9 percent identical. *

To put this statement in perspective let’s look at the US Dollar. One percent of one hundred cents is one penny. So one tenth of one percent of the dollar is one tenth of a penny which does not amount to very much. Some years ago during the early seventies I was visiting one of my favorite towns, New Hope, Pennsylvania. It was one of those small tourist towns, beautifully landscaped along the Delaware river dotted with small family owned boutiques, bakeries and restaurants. It was in total contrast to Trenton, New Jersey where I lived. Outside my favorite candy shop was a sign which read, “Penny Candy 2¢.” It always brought laughter to my heart. My penny could not even buy a piece of “Penny Candy.” The penny had no true value then and has even less now. Today in contrast the sign might read “Dime Candy $1.00.”

I use this analogy to point out the valuelessness which according to the Oxford dictionary means “having no value; worthless,” of one tenth of one percent. I can place myself aside any one of eight billion people on the planet and our DNA, the genetic building blocks of who we are as a species, will vary by less than one tenth of one percent. It is true. Each man is my brother, each woman, my sister, genetically. I am as almost genetically identical to any randomly selected human, from any country on the globe as are two identical twins. Each human on the planet has the same identical genetic structure. That one tenth of one percent has no value, is valueless, and yet humankind fails to recognize the 99.9% genetic connection between all humans.

Instead we focus on the minute differences generated by the genetic code like the shape and color of eyes, skin tones and skin color, hair color and type. We also differentiate from each other by country of origin, religion, sex and creed but those are mostly cultural differences not directed by our genetic code. For my entire life I have pondered prejudice and discrimination based upon these minute characteristics.

The world has committed endless genocides against its own people, annilated hundreds of cultures and languages for these minute differences, engaged in countless, endless wars against their own kin based upon a difference of one tenth of one percent rather then respecting the 99.9 percent we all have genetically in common.

Something to think about the next time you discriminate against a woman because of her sex or a man because of his race or color of his skin. You are taking that same action against 99.9% of yourself.

… for every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

Walt Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892)

* Wikipedia