A special part of the trip was the opportunity to see China's major industries "up close and personal" -- silk factories, pearl markets and tea plantations. The Buddhist temples put us in awe. Other than the re-entry adjustment caused by the 12-hour time difference (and the small number of "Western" toilets in some locations), it was an awesome experience for the nearly 70 participants. And I have to put in a good word for our subgroup -- Bus 2 rules!
The young people in China seem to gravitate toward Western ways, at least in terms of fashion. And, on the business front, it's a country whose government has tight control of its citizens and, yet, is embracing some hybrid developments with capitalism. Which brings me back to thinking about our similarities, differences and genomics.
To boil things down a bit, the human genome comprises the total genetic material in a human cell. Despite 5.5 billion variations on a theme, the differences from one genome to the next are minuscule. The genome, in turn, is distributed among 23 sets of chromosomes, which, in each of us, have been replicated and re-replicated since our conception.
The source of our personal uniqueness -- our full genome -- is preserved in each of our body's 60 trillion cells. We've learned a lot since the early efforts of the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Energy, the sequencing developed by Nobel Prize winners Fred Sanger and Arthur Kornberg and scientist John Craig Venter's pioneering research. According to a recent study by Venter, we may only be 99 percent similar, rather than 99.9 percent. But, still ...
Decoding of the DNA that constitutes the human genome has not been without its detractors -- or questions involving medical ethics and even future insurance coverage. Advocates, however, laud it for the contribution it could make toward understanding the causation of disease and the interplay between the environment and heredity in defining the human condition.
OK, enough of the science behind things. At the very time our world is, arguably, more divided than ever, I find it refreshing to go beyond the labels and affirm that we're more similar than different. Underneath it all, our ethnic groups, religions, political affiliations and socioeconomic status levels aren't the "stuff" that makes us "us."
Don't get me wrong, though. I'm all about uniqueness. After all, that's what really does differentiate us. Just like the personality testing models like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator point out, we all have distinct preferences or "leanings." That doesn't mean we can't orient our behavior into other areas; it just doesn't come as naturally.
The big takeaway here is from Aretha Franklin: R-E-S-P-E-C-T for the differences.
Linda Arnold, MBA, is a certified wellness instructor and chairwoman/CEO of The Arnold Agency, a marketing communications firm specializing in advertising, public relations, government relations and interactive marketing. Reader comments may be directed to Linda Arnold, The Arnold Agency, 117 Summers St., Charleston, WV 25301, or e-mailed to livelifefu...@arnoldagency.com.