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Camille Granito Mancuso: Chatterbox--Degrees of separation

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Social media is imperfect, but it has its perks. It just sent me one of my own old columns. Icing my planned column for today, I’ve chosen to reprint it because, rereading it, I realized is even more timely now than it was four years ago.
 
There’s a video on YouTube that always makes me cry. Okay ... I’m a weeper, but this one was amazing. I would be remiss if I failed to mention that the video was sponsored by a company that sells DNA tests so, naturally, they’re going to show the most dramatic results they have. That, though, was what made it so worth watching.
 
They were also making a wonderful point: It’s a small world, and we’re all connected to it and each other, much more closely than we think. For some in this test group, connections were closer than they had actually stated they wanted. Yet, there was always an air of relief when they found out that their genetic truth included bits they had hoped it wouldn’t, as if they’d been relieved of some vendetta they had never wanted to have.
 
The sponsors interviewed about 40 people in a room. They asked them what their nationality was, what people or countries they didn’t like, and what countries they liked. A few were quite adamant about being only one nationality and proud of it, and openly admitted to having trouble with certain other ‘types’ of people. Then, the moderators gave everyone a DNA test.
 
Chatterbox has discussed before that who we are and who owns what soil on the planet does depend, in fact, only on how far back into history we look. Our DNA proves that for us, to us, about us, and about all cultures. That was, indeed, what many of these people found out.
 
Of course, on a person to person basis, few of us really have any problems, day to day, with each other – government leadership is our real problem, including America’s corporate oligarchists. Indeed, they labor to great effort and expense every day to create chasms between us, yet, we remain a brotherhood of sorts, and a crisis always shows us that most clearly.
 
Still, several of those interviewed admitted they wouldn’t want to find out they were “this” or “that” nationality or religion. One man, confident in his strictly British roots, admitted he was “not a fan of the Germans.” A pretty young Kurdish refugee, admitted she wouldn’t want to find out she had any ties to Turkey. Another gentleman said his DNA would support that he was “…solid Iraqi,” while another guy touted that he was superior to the interviewers, and many other people, because he was 100% Icelandic.
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I was most taken with one lovely French woman who was very open to finding out anything but believed the results would be “boring…it’s gonna be ‘oh you’re French’,” she said to them, referring to the test, “… and, ‘oh, wait, your grandparents were French,’ and ‘wait, your great-great-great-grandparents were French.’” She did, though, admit she felt far more at home in England than she ever felt in France, and she really loved Italians.
 
Two weeks later, to the nervous laughter of everyone in the room, the confident Brit found out he was not even one-third British and, much to his chagrin, was even a bit German. The pretty young Kurd discovered she was part Turkish, and had an amazing surprise: She actually had a Muslim cousin in the room. Neither of them knew, and he, who had stated he was, “… solid Iraqi” read his results, saying, “I’m a Muslim Jew.” He was partly astonished, partly relieved, partly disheartened. The superior Icelandic pure bred found out he was bits of nearly everything except Icelandic. The broadminded French lady, who felt connections to England and Italy and was willing to learn anything, found out she was not French at all. She was, indeed, nearly one-third Italian and nearly one-third British. She said, “…it’s like my genes know better than I do. I’m gonna go a bit far right now, but this (meaning the DNA testing) should be compulsory.”
She then went on to make a gloriously profound remark, which should be plastered on billboards around the world, “There would be no such thing as … extremism in the world if people knew their heritage. … Who would be stupid enough to think of such a thing as a pure race?”
 
“In a way,” the moderator said, “we are all kind of cousins …”
 
Enough said. Peace ... now.

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