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DNA: The great equalizer?

It is highly probable. Throughout his life, the Ole Seagull has been told, “Everyone is created equal.” However, his 83 years of life continually show him the fallacy of that statement. From his earliest days in school, he realized he was not the intellectual equal of those much brighter than him or the athletic equal of those who excelled in sports, etc. As he nears the end of his seasons, he knows that, along with many other things, his singing voice could never come close to that of a Doug Gabriel or George Dyer, and his ability to entertain and mesmerize audiences could never equal that of the incomparable Shoji Tabuchi, Clay Cooper, or Neal McCoy, nor would he ever have the ability of Gary Presley, “Herkimer” to make people laugh.


When people say, “Everyone is created equal,” they often mean that everyone should have the same rights and opportunities, and that’s absolutely true. But even with that, some will go farther, faster and accomplish much more than their peers. Why?


The simple fact is that people are different physically and mentally. Our DNA, that unique code in our bodies, plays a significant role in making us different and virtually assures “that we are not all created equal.” It influences everything from physical appearance to health, intellect and behavior.


DNA affects our physical traits. Every person has a unique combination of genes, the basic units of heredity passed down from our parents. These genes determine our eye color, hair color, height and even the shape of our nose. For example, if both of your parents are tall, you are more likely to be tall because of the genes you inherit from them. Similarly, your chances of having curly hair or blue eyes depend on the specific genes you get from your parents. These differences are why no two people look exactly alike except identical twins with the same DNA.


Beyond physical traits, DNA also influences our health. Some people inherit genes that make them more susceptible to certain diseases. For example, if a particular disease runs in your family, you might have a higher risk of developing it because of the genes you inherit. Some people inherit genes that make them less prone to certain illnesses, some more prone. Even with the same lifestyle and environment, two people can have very different health outcomes based on their genetic makeup.


DNA also plays a significant role in our abilities and talents. While hard work and practice are crucial, genetic factors can give some people a natural advantage in certain areas. For example, some people might have genes that make them naturally good at running, giving them an edge in athletics. Others might have genes that contribute to musical talent or an aptitude for math. These genetic predispositions don’t guarantee success but can provide a helpful starting point.


Our DNA influences our personality and behavior. Researchers find that specific characteristics can be passed down to varying degrees. These traits include temperament, risk-taking, and aspects of intelligence. However, this doesn’t imply that our environment and experiences are irrelevant. They still play a significant role. Genetic factors can shape the way we respond to our surroundings and the choices we make. For instance, someone with a genetic predisposition for high intelligence might find it easier to excel in academic settings. Yet another person with a different genetic predisposition may find learning in that environment challenging.


It’s important to note that while DNA plays a significant role in shaping who we are, it is not the only factor. Known as “gene-environment interaction,” DNA also influences how we respond to our environment and experiences. For example, a person with a genetic predisposition for high anxiety might be more affected by stressful situations compared to someone without that predisposition. Similarly, a person with a natural talent for music might thrive in an environment that nurtures their talent. At the same time, someone without that genetic advantage might not achieve the same level of proficiency despite similar training. Similarly, someone genetically predisposed to a specific health condition can take preventive measures to reduce risk.


Understanding the role of DNA in creating differences among people helps us appreciate the complexity of human diversity. It also highlights the importance of personalized approaches in medicine and education. For instance, recognizing genetic predispositions can lead to more effective medical treatments tailored to an individual’s genetic profile. Understanding that students have different genetic strengths and weaknesses can help create learning environments that cater to diverse needs.


While an Ole Seagull believes that no one is created “superior” to another, the concept that everyone is “created equal,” except as a matter of legislative creation, flies in the face of everyday reality and science. It’s a simple, and, to an Ole Seagull, undeniable fact that our DNA creates unique individuals with DNA that virtually assures inequality. That’s not bad; it’s just how it is. To him, recognizing that can help us work towards a society that values, supports and maximizes each person’s unique potential.


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