Ghost in Your Genes

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Ohg Rea Tone is all or nothing. He is educated and opinionated, more clever than smart, sarcastic and forthright. He writes intuitively - often disregarding rules of composition. Comment on his posts - he will likely respond with characteristic humor or genuine empathy. He is the real-deal.

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Ghost in Your Genes

Son,

I like to watch NOVA, a PBS program on public TV. Last evening they had a program on called Epigenetics, Ghost in Your Genes. It was funny that I was thinking of home made baby wipes while watching the program. Just before I sat down to watch the program I had been looking at pictures of your son with chocolate chip pancake residue smeared across his face. He is really cute – and the pictures clearly showed a resemblance to both of his parents.

The Human Gnome Project was heralded as the future of medicine. The idea was to map the human gnome, the human DNA. With the map in hand scientists would be able to identify missing or broken links that lead to diseases such as cancer. Fix the link – cure cancer. The idea went something like that.

It turns out that life is not that simple. Identical twins have the same DNA, but identical twins are not the same. One might get cancer and the other does not. One might be autistic and the other is not. So the scientists are asking themselves, “Dude – wa’s up wit dat?”

These are some pretty smart folks. Smart in this case is their ability to take extremely complex science and ask the correct basic questions – like if these two are the same then why are they different. Deduction – nurture must be affecting nature. Aristotle and Plato were the first on record to debate the Nature versus Nurture argument. It turns out they were both right – even at the genetic level.

The human DNA is 99.9% the same as chimpanzees. But Chimps know better than to smoke tobacco. What accounts for this difference? The answer is found in Epigenetics. It turns out that nurture programs the DNA to either turn elements on or off – dramatically affecting our development – even impacting our personality. A Child who experiences great love as an infant will suffer less stress as an adult; the love experience literally turns on elements of the DNA – or perhaps the lack of love turns the element off.

Enter the baby wipes. I mentioned in a different post that I was blessed to watch you giving your infant daughter a gentle bath – Her epigenetic DNA was busy programming during that experience – impacting her personality for life. Other factors can turn our DNA on and off through out life. Things like smoking or nuclear explosions for sure. Our DNA continues to modify itself throughout our life, depending on environment.

So scientists can reasonably say that you were literally massaging your daughter’s DNA as you massaged her during her bath. My contention is that she was also massaging your DNA at the same time. Valuable elements of life that were turned off with sadness or grief or lack of nurture in childhood can be turned on. I have seen changes in you after you became a parent – and I think those changes are not by accident – or exclusively by your choice.

Love returns love. What goes around comes around. Payback is real. Hate will foster hate, love will foster love. And we don’t have to understand the science, we just have to have faith.

Dad

There Are 2 Responses So Far. »

  1. The program dosn’t talk about nurture… it talks about environmental factors like the stress hormone cortisone and famine.
    You can take epigenetics as far as you want but don’t pretend that the Scientist would be so presumptuous.

  2. ar-lok,

    Thanks for writing. As I watched the program on PBS it struck me that environmental factors influence epigenetics, and it also struck me that those influences can be relevant an any age. My sense, and not necessarily the sense of the scientists, is that being kind is an environmental influence and the action has a return action on oneself. Call me crazy and I’ll just say thanks.
    Ohg

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