We Are Family

Elitists of every kind are caught up in the fallacy of misplaced concreteness.  The  abstract thought they treat as real, is “I am more important than you and my insights about life are better than yours.”  They hold that their beliefs, attitudes, and sense of self  are a proper basis for making judgments about “really-real”  realities. In spirit and in fact, we are all more alike than different and we all don’t know what we doapronn’t know. Here is a simple example.

We are family whether we like it or not.  Mathematics provides a simple logic.

Back in 1992, I had a special apron made to give as a Christmas gift for everyone in my immediate family and some of the extended family. As you can see, this apron (as pictured on the right) proclaims, “We are family! Everybody …includes you and me.”

Below that heading was a progression of our gene pool as we go back each generation. With a 20-year average spread for each generation, it didn’t take long to see how richly diverse we necessarily would become within 1000 years. Even with all the inter-marriage within relatively small villages and towns, diversity is quickly introduced with the unknowns.

The final conclusion was simply, “You’ve got the whole world in your genes.”

Let us see.  Take a look at the picture on the right. Consider each of those four columns:

On far left are the years going back in time. It uses 30 years per generation. Many would argue that 20-year average might be more appropriate. It has only been in the last few generations that the average has climbed up over 20 years. In the USA in 2007, the average was 25.2 years (U.S. Census Bureau 2007, November 30, 2007).

The next column is the successive number of generations as we go back in time. Just imagine if everyone in your family throughout the last 400 years magically came alive and were present at your birth.  How many people would be there to greet you? Most people do not have a clue.

In the fourth column there is a discussion.  The challenge is to grasp the simple concept that you have the entire world in your genes… that everyone on earth is related.

The First Thousand Years

1st  = Your immediate family  = There is your Mom’s side & your Dad’s side.
2nd = Just 20 years ago  = Four grandparents – two more uniques
3rd = About 40 years ago  = Eight great-grandparents;  four more uniques
4th = 60± years ago  = 16 great-great grandparents; 8 more uniques
5th = 80± years ago  = 32 great, greats; 16 more possibilities
6th = 100±  = 64 Great-Greats; up to 32 more possibilities
7th  = 120±  = 128 Great-Greats
8th  = 140±  = 256 Great-Greats
9th  = 160±  = 512 Great-Greats
10th  = 180±  = 1024 Great-Greats
11th  = 200±  = 2048 Great-Greats
12th  = 220±  = 4096 Great-Greats
13th  = 240±  = 8192 Great-Greats
14th  = 260±  = 16,384 Great-Greats
15th  = 280±  = 32,768 Great-Greats
16th  = 300±  = 65,536 Great-Greats
17th  = 320±  = 131,072 Great-Greats
18th  = 340±  = 262,144 Great-Greats
19th  = 360±  = 524,288 Great-Greats
20th  = 400±  = 1,048,576 Great-Greats
400 + years ago. You can easily calculate the year. In just just 20 big generations we all have over 1±  million genetic strands and many, many unique family names.
21st  = 420±  =  2,097,152 Great-Greats
22nd  = 440±  = 4,194,304 Great-Greats
23rd  = 480±  = 8,388,608 Great-Greats
24th  = 500±  = 16,777,216 Great-Greats
25th  = 520±  = 33,554,432 Great-Greats
500 years ago – do a quick calculation of the date – what would you guess the world’s population is?  Estimates are right in the range 500 million people.
26th  = 540±  = 65,108,864 Great-Greats
27th  = 560±  = 130,217,728 Great-Greats
28th  = 580±  = 260,433,556 Great-Greats
29th  = 600±  = 520,867,112 Great-Greats
30th  = 620±  = 1,041,734,224 Great-Greats
31st  = 640±  = 2,083,568,448 Great-Greats
32nd  = 680±  =  4,167,136,496 Great-Greats
33rd  = 700±  = 8,334,272,992 Great-Greats

In relatively short order we have more genetics — 8,334,272,992 — than the total world’s population today.

That is over 8 billion genetic recombinations within 33 generations.  That is in as few as 700 years and perhaps as many as 1000 years.  What happens with another 1000 years by going back another 1000 years is staggering.

As we go back our genetic richness increases greatly, yet the world’s population decreases. Similar to the idea that there are only six degrees of separation, here we learn there is hardly a degree of separation.

No wonder there are so many people descendant from that little group on the Mayflower! About 1000 years ago we would all have over 15 billion women within our genetic pool. Given that there are so many overlapping genetic pools, it is a powerful thought that we are all in some manner related.

Of course, we recognize that not too long ago there was not today’s mobility and we were marrying not-so-distant cousins, yet with the introduction of one wandering troubadour, genetic diversity is guaranteed.

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