Saturday, February 14, 2009

One Tenth of One Percent

In 1990 the U.S. Human Genome Project set out to determine the sequences of DNA, and identify all the human genes. Thirteen years later we learn the human genome contains 3.2 billion chemical nucleotide base pairs, the average gene consists of 3,000 of these base pairs, and the total number of genes is estimated at 25,000, much lower than the previous estimates of 80,000 to 140,000. Functions are still unknown for more than 50% of discovered genes.

The most interesting statistic for me, largely due to the fact that my understanding of this subject matter is severely limited, the human genome sequence is almost exactly the same in all people. We are 99.9% similar, with only one tenth of one percent difference among humanity.

On one end of the spectrum we are only genetically different by one tenth of one percent to drug dealers, murders, rapists, BYU fans, thieves, and Bill O’Reilly. But at the same time to think that we are 99.9% identical to the likes of Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., Albert Einstein, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Walt Disney, Thomas S. Monson, Mohandas Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela is pretty powerful. As humans we are all capable of a very wide spectrum of things. It’s tremendously hopeful that we are so similar to the greats of our time. The potential in each and every one of us is truly marvelous. I hope we can all find compassion and forgiveness to those that haven’t made the best of choices, remembering that even the worse people out there are only one tenth of one percent different than all of us.

It is more and more evident to me that in order to solve the problems we face as a family, community, region, country and world, our common humanity is greater than our differences. We are all much closer than we will ever understand and people care much more about one another than we often realize. Our surrounding, choices and actions are what separate us. If we all would remember our common humanity, over our small differences, I know we’d all be much happier.

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