I'm re-reading a fantastically wonderful book called THE SEVEN MYSTERIES OF LIFE
by Guy Murchie
. It's a deep investigation into life, biologically and philosophically...how it works, what it is, what it does...and what it's for. For chapter after stunning chapter, Murchie relates facts, studies, tales, and trivia about life, living things, and humans that continually bore deeper into our search for meaning
In one chapter in particular, which deals with the interrelatedness of all creatures, Murchie talks about the cousinhood of man, and he shows with very simple mathematics how it is inevitable that everyone on this planet is related to everyone else by at least the 50th cousin! He writes: "This is not a particularly abstruse fact, for simple arithmetic dictates that, if we double the number of our ancestors for each generation as we reckon backward (consistently multiplying them by two: 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great-grandparents, 16 great-great-grandparents, etc.), our personal pedigree would cover mankind before the thirtieth generation. Mathematics is quite explosive in this regard, you see, for the thirtieth power of two (1, 073, 741, 824) turns out to be much larger than was the earth's population thirty generations ago - that is, in the thirteenth century if we assume 25 years to a generation."
Murchie then goes on to examine how localized mating and marriage customs affect the mathematics, how inbreeding and outbreeding are factored in, as well as all the nomadic ventures, conquesting, and the usual looting, pillaging, and raping that seem to be the hallmark of our history, bringing us to the inevitable conclusion that at some point in the last fifty generations, every person's family tree has intersected each and everyone else's. Even the most isolated of cultures most likely have some genetic strain that is from another tribe or culture, and we can only draw from this that separatism, purism, and racism are the most absurd of follies. Not only are there no such beings as "totally white people," or "totally black people," or totally ANYTHING, but were they to exist, they would not be another race (biologically speaking) so much as another species.
Each and every one of us, it seems, is composed of many. Murchie further writes: "...the fact means that your own ancestors, whoever you are, include not only some blacks, some Chinese, and some Arabs, but all the blacks, Chinese, Arabs, Malays, Latins, Eskimos, and every other possible ancestor who lived on Earth around 700 AD."
Talk about the family of Man. For some curious reason, knowing this makes me feel a little better about myself. I'm not sure why.