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One human family

Melvin B. Miller
One human family
“You’ve been dressing up like Napoleon ever since you got that DNA report!” Illustration: Dan Drew

Families gather on Thanksgiving to confirm their cohesiveness and express their appreciation for the year’s bounty. The nuclear family was once simply parents and their children, as well as surviving grandparents. But now the expanding interest in congenital DNA has generated broader interest in the fundamental question — “Who am I?”

Americans have a great interest in being better than the guy next door. Very often it is not quite enough to be very good at one’s chosen craft or profession. If it is necessary to be derogatory about others in order to see yourself as the king of the hill, so be it. But a social problem is looming with DNA tests uncovering racial connections that are considered by some to be inferior.

Those who base their status on their Aryan roots will undoubtedly contest the assertion that their long trek to modern civilization began in Africa. However, respected anthropologists agree that at least one branch of human development began in Africa’s Olduvai Gorge. The fossilized skeleton of an early inhabitant of the region has been determined to be the first human bones. Scientists named her Lucy, the mother of humanity. She lived 1.8 million years ago.

The idea that human civilization began in Africa does not appeal to the race supremacists of European origin. There are other theories that human development had several original sources. That might well be, but there is no evidence that one source was Northern Europe. In his historical account of Europe in 50 B.C. Julius Caesar described tribes in France, Germany, Switzerland and England that were substantially more primitive than the Greek and Roman cultures of that time.

Perhaps Ancestry DNA or 23andMe tests will uncover the lineage of human development that is so scientifically sound that people will become more objective about the benefits or disadvantages of different avenues of genetic development.

One reality seems to emerge. All human beings belong to one species. We might look different and have different color hair and eyes, but we nonetheless all belong to one family. That’s too many for Thanksgiving dinner but not too many for human love.

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