Practicing from the Heart in the age of Technology - All articles and poems are by Reza Ghadimi, unless otherwise noted.
One of the most contentious sentiments among people around the world is the matter of their ethnic and racial genetic purity and originality. Many races abhor the thought of genetic diversity. Proudly claiming the purity of their race, nationality and bloodline. History is filled with stories of atrocities performed under the pretense of preserving one’s race. However, today’s science of DNA studies reveals our inherent composition to be anything but unique or pure.
While serving in the US Air Force and stationed in RAF Lakenheath, England, I had the opportunity to travel to Scotland several times. I liked flying there because the route took us over some spectacular Scottish countryside. Often, we reached the place at the end of the day and returned the next day. I habitually spent my time visiting the countryside, talking to the locals and learning their history – which I found fascinating.
Despite the adamant pride Scots showed for their heritage, one historical fact that stayed with me was; how routinely the area was raided by the Vikings throughout the ages. During these raids, along with commodities and other goods taken, many of the Scottish women were kidnapped as well. So, it was common knowledge that the people of the area were of the Viking/Scottish mix. Years later, when DNA testing of the population was done, this fact was proven.
Such interactions and exchanges – forceful or not – are common around the world among many tribes and communities. Right or wrong, they contributed to our genetic diversity and cancel the notion of our race or national purity. Does this mean that our identities have been stolen or strengthen?
In medicine too, this fact has been something we have worked with, struggled and dealt with all throughout our profession and practice. We have seen firsthand how genetic diversity results in stronger off spring and the lack of it, devastating problems. Still, it is disturbing to see that at times, our prejudices carry into our decision making and interaction with some patients. We can and should do better. Our practice must be a sanctuary for all.