Friday, February 18, 2011


Every day we discover some new benefit of diversity. And today, for me, that appreciation for diversity extended beyond racial diversity to genetic and "disease" diversity. Recently, doctors discovered a "feature" of hereditary dwarfism, Laron syndrome -- . I had previously considered dwarfism to be an unfortunate mutation, something to be cured or minimized. Some may have thought of it as merely a deformity.
As a teenager, I looked at some of my own physical and mental imperfections and felt angry at life for having botched my genes, a Radiohead "creep" not worthy of a mate and a family of my own. Of course we all get over that as we grow old and find affirmation among people like us. I imagine the struggle is even more difficult for those dealing with dwarfism. But now they may have new source of pride.
Aparently some of the genes associated with dwarfism stunt the growth of cancer as well as the growth of healthy organs and structures . So if we continue to pollute the planet and consume toxic chemicals that increase mutation and increase cancer and disease, eventually people with hereditary dwarfism, like the remote mountain villages of Ecuador where a third of all people with these genes live, may be the lucky few to inherit the Earth. They may become the Darwinian "fittest" and leave us tall folk in the dust.
So I've learned anew today to appreciate diversity as valuable. From that crazy aunt in your own gene pool to the unattractive neighbor that bugs you whenever you mow the lawn, consider that they may hold the genetic keys to the future of the human race. And even if they don't, they contribute to the variety and stimulation of human social life.
Obviously, this appreciation for diversity should extend to our protection of ecosystems of lesser organisms as well. Don't get excited about wiping out polio, or small pox, or bird & swine flu, or other scourges of human kind. These microscopic organisms that nearly conquered us may hold genetic knowledge invaluable to us in our quest to conquer the universe. Be careful in your harvesting of tuna or old-growth trees. You never know when that species you wiped out might just be the bit of gene knowledge we needed to continue to advance our civilization beyond the energy and food limitations of this planet.

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