So I found a guy who has a YouTube video about why Native American DNA doesn’t show up on DNA tests. That isn’t true, btw, it does. A lot of people have had positive results from their testing. But his test didn’t show it so he had to find a way to rationalize the fact that his DNA was telling him he wasn’t something he believed he was by saying that something was wrong with the testing.
I thought, “Okay, let’s see what he has to say,” because there might be some weird genetic testing quirk I don’t know about. How there could be in a field where minute differences in chromosomes can offer a wealth of information, I don’t know, but hell, what I don’t know about DNA would just about fill the Grand Canyon. So he starts out about testing his DNA and the results that showed his Jewish and Bedouin DNA proving he was descended from the Prophet Mohammed, and I shut the video off because in that moment he became unreliable. He didn’t want to offer up some information that might help people navigate some weirdness in the reporting of genetic heritage, he wanted bragging rights about all his DNA. No, I’m not linking to him. He annoyed me.
Not my ancestor. Sorry.
Look, I have a family tree that “proves” I’m descended from Charlemagne and Sacajawea. One thing I know is that if you’ve got European blood, there is a very high probability that you are descended from Charlemagne, so I accept that it might be true considering that about 90% of my DNA is N. European. But I pretty much figure that somewhere along the line, one of the genealogists whose charts I could connect to fudged some data, because that it’s provable on paper strikes me as being in the realm of wishful thinking rather than reality. I’m not even going to touch the Sacajawea thing; I don’t believe it and neither does my DNA.
So what is this all about? It’s a rumination on the human need to feel special and all the ways we go about proving it when we don’t have to. There’s the DNA thing; people have a lot of investment in having famous or exotic DNA because it satisfies a bit of the human drive to feel special somehow, to identify with something special, something rare, exotic, famous.
I had a cousin who was virtually a professional genealogist. He spent years traveling around, finding source material, putting together a family tree. And when he finished, he was a direct descendant from both Jesus and Adam and Eve. He had found some way to rationalize a genealogical connection that was meaningful to him because it made him feel more special than other people. My mother was impressed. I rolled my eyes and said nothing.
Def not my ancestor. Don’t even go there.
We are so desperate to feel special in some way, in our abilities (which are provable, hence one of the best ways to stand out from the crowd), our intellect (in spite of intelligence tests being culturally biased, and only basically proving that some people are good at standardized tests that adhere to their own cultural standards, IOW, virtually meaningless), our looks (how many people obsess about what they look like?), their sexual attractiveness, their wealth, or power.
And it’s not only positive things. Ill health, mental issues, problems, tragedies, losses all are ways to stand out from the crowd. I’m sure you know people who spend a lot of time telling you how sick they are or how terrible their lives are. I’ve done it. I once got upset because a friend one-upped all my ills, and I thought Why can’t I, just for once, be the Most Miserable?
Some people even do it by telling other people they aren’t special. The implication is: “I am because I know that you’re not.” They suck, btw.
The idea that some people count and some don’t is a subject that has bothered me for years, and recently a friend told me that some people are necessary and some aren’t. (Not in a rotten, entitled way, but in a sad, unappreciated way.) I told her no one is strictly necessary in the larger sense. We are loved, we are liked, we are needed for some specific reason or other, but necessary? No. The universe disabuses us of that notion pretty quickly if we pay attention to how it operates.
But do some people count while others don’t? Nuh-uh. And anyone saying so is not only wrong, they’re probably shitty people who are trying to justify greed or cruelty. Do not listen to them.
Look at the myriad of memes on the Internet that “prove” that we can see more colors than the next person, that we can perceive this, that, or the next thing more accurately than our friends, that we’re likely to be autistic, sociopathic, bipolar, depressed; that we’re like Thor or the tenth Doctor, or our perfect match is Sherlock, or Tony Stark, or Darth Vader. And we publicly pooh-pooh the results but we display them anyway because, if we’re being honest, there’s a little part of us that feels a bit better about ourselves because of them. That’s human.
The truth is that there is no single thing that makes anyone on earth more special than anyone else. Nothing, nada. I am not more special than you. You are not more special than me. We are special in different ways. We are unique, and that’s all we should need to feel special. It’s a damn shame that neither our society nor our own hearts and minds will allow us to accept that.
So I am here to tell you that you are special. Yes, you are. This is only one of you. Even if you have an identical twin. Even if you’re a freaking clone, you are unique because it isn’t just what we’re born with, it’s what we amass as we live our lives. It’s our experiences, good and bad, it’s what we’ve read, the things we’ve seen and done, the music we’ve listened to, the food we’ve eaten, the people we’ve known (all of whom are unique and special too), it’s our hopes, our dreams, our thoughts.
There is no one on earth like you and there never has been. That makes you pretty fucking special to my way of thinking.
Wow… feeling philosophical today. I went on a long tangent about language and the brain over breakfast. I expect Glinda’s eyes are still rolling back in her head. LOL