You can hear the most extraordinary things at the pub these days, but even so rarely do you hear anything nearly so daft as did the patrons of the Eagle Pub in Cambridge one February evening in 1953; when James Watson and Francis Crick rocked up and declared “we have found the secret of life.”
The patrons must have assumed the boys were just a bit tooled. Astonishingly enough, they had indeed discovered the secret of life neatly packaged in a double helix structure. The pair had just discovered Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA). It’s the stuff we’re made of. It is the genetic determinant of who we are, or is it?
Our DNA is our genetic blueprint, it determines our traits not our destiny. Our genes are not an absolute determinant as much as they are contingent our environment. Environmental factors both internal and external greatly influence the degree to which our genetic tendencies are expressed or repressed.
With the birth of genetic engineering geneticists conceived that if they could isolate the specific gene responsible for a specific disease the time would come where patients could be “fixed” and many of the diseases that have of late escalated could be irradiated.
To the surprise and chagrin of geneticists, their mapping of the human genome revealed 25,000 as opposed to the anticipated 120.000 genes in the human body. Meaning, over eighty-percent of the requisite DNA for a human being is simply not present. –(Lipton; The Biology of Belief, 2005)
A massive blow to genetic determinism but promising for the prospect of genetic synchronism, the possibilities that abound around and within us are the result of a combination of causes. Just because an individual is genetically predisposed to disease does not mean they are condemned to it. Similarly just because we have certain traits and (perceived) limitations does not mean our life experiences are subject to them. Geneticist and Noble Laureate David Baltimore states in reference to the Human Genome Project “understanding what does give us our complexity…remains a challenge for the future.”
One of the pre-eminent genetics in the world states openly that he is far from understanding our complexity, yet so many people defiantly declare with certainly, “I can’t change, this is just who I am!!”
There is evidence to support that the possibilities that abound within us are influenced by the life we live and those we place around us.
I am sceptical that thinking positive thoughts alone can affect our genetic tendencies, our physical health, our live experience in general… much. An individual who grew up with the often-reinforced belief that they’re worthless would be hard pressed to change that by affirming how loveable they are 20x per day in the mirror. Or the person who was always made fun of for being overweight will not likely change his self-image (or his body for that matter) by thinking thin thoughts. Actions are key, because actions affect results, results affect feelings and feelings affect the quality of our lives.
Yesterday a friend I love dearly called me to say that she feared she was about to lose someone she loved dearly. Her grandmother is ninety-four years old and up until the past few months has enjoyed a seemingly undiminished presence of mind.
It’s a sad thought, but I wonder how many people go out of this world feeling as if they’re an extraneous burden. Imagine living a vibrant ninety-four years and then coming to the end of your life with the realization that you will be missed. It might be that the measure of how well we lived is the loss people feel when we’re gone because of how much they gained by knowing us when we were here. What type of person is truly, deeply missed? I suspect we those we miss the most are the ones that make us feel our best.
Maybe the meaning of life not so much in the genetic but esoteric sense is contrast. If we want love in our lives it may prove disheartening to seek love, but we may be better served by being more loving. If we seek more attention perhaps we should pay more attention. If we want better friends, we should be a better friend. I believe that’s what Ghandi meant when he said “you must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Although that statement intuitively makes sense to people, how many individual’s act as the change they wish to see in the world or even their world? I suppose that many who can, don’t because they view change as this panoptic mountain too steep for them to climb. But in reality it could be a small step, followed by another.
It could be staying just a bit longer, listening just a bit deeper, giving just a bit more.
It’s impossible to affect the world around us without affecting the world within us. By changing ourselves we change the perception others have of us which in turn alters our own self-perception. With the expansion of a constructive self-perception is the increased possibility for the actualization of a better life (and the physiological equivalent of it).
While it’s a bit of stretch to say that through thought one can do anything, we are not our genes, by being the change we desire most in the present we can surely do everything better in the future, despite our programming in the past.
From “Be The Change” at PTontheNET