First I’ve had a good week of Music. I saw Queen plus Adam Lambert live
And I also got to hear the first single from Illumishade
Everything happens in cycles it seems, and well one particular topic seems to happen at least once every quarter.
Late last week, I got to play another round of whack-a-racist. There were two sources of this:
- The Conovirus
- The ever-present idea that your ancestral heritage, as proscribed by DNA tests, dictates your spiritual path in some way.
So lets talk about these in turn.
To me the most concerning one was the Coronavirus (more correctly A Novel Coronavirus aka nCoV) bigotry. So let’s start there.
Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large common family of viruses. The can cause things from the Common cold, to the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and yes the current paranoia over nCoV.
Take a second to digest that. The common cold is one of the conditions that can be caused. Now to be fair the “common cold” is caused by over 200 different viruses, and that’s why we don’t have a vaccine for it. I would also point out to populations who had never been exposed to the “common cold”, such as the American First Nations, the common cold was devastating, and killed innumerable numbers.
Still not convinced. Then go google the “Spanish Flu” epidemic that began in 1918 (and is one reason that WW1 actually ended) and dragged on to December 1920. It had a mortality rate of about 20%. Let that sink in. 1 in 5 who caught it, died. ONE in FIVE. It is estimated to have infected 500 million people out of the estimated 1.8 billion alive at that time. The Death toll low estimate is 50 million, and probably was 100 million, or 3 to 6% of the planets humans died. This is all from a influenza that suddenly became much worse than the seasonal flu. For the record it is called the Spanish flu, not because it started there, its been traced to a battlefield hospital in France, the Spanish as a neutral nation in the world war, just reported honestly, and did not censor things. Indeed, some postulate that the Spanish flu ended the first world war faster than with out its presence.
Let’s look at nCoV, which is in its early days. There is the problem that many nations are not reporting in a timely manner on how many people have it, let alone how many are dead. But using the Johns Hopkins website as of me typing this, there have been roughly 37 500 people with it, 2 900 got better, and 814 dead. Quick and dirty mathematics shows the mortality at the moment is about 2%.
Figure 1 shows a breakdown of major viruses over the last 50 or so years, from Marberg to nCoV. Its early days but nCoV has actually the lowest morality rate of these so-called global pandemics. But let’s call it a Chinese virus, and shut every thing down ok? Now when I lived in the USA I got the H1N1 influenza of 2009, aka Swine Flu. I was very lucky to not get a severe case, but it did cost me 2 weeks off of work (they quarantined me from returning). In the US it had a mortality of 17.4%. DO we call this an American Virus? Because it started in either Mexico or the USA? Nope. We don’t. Was the USA quarantined from the rest of the world? Nope, business as usual.
Add to this people claiming it is an escaped and engineered virus from a biolab in Wuhan, its nothing but racism. (Figure 2) Indeed some people think that the virus has HIV as part of it’s genome. All because the Chinese are trying HV anti viral drugs to try and stop the progress in a host. People assume it’s a bioweapon. If it is it has done two things (a) Its failed, as its mortality is terrible (thankfully) and (b) who ever did it is really good at making it look natural. Sadly (a) and (b) are mutually excusive of one another.
Now for the other source of racism of my weekend.
DNA tests and ancestry. I’ve blogged on this so much, I am not going to even link the damned blogs. If in doubt go read them, if you don’t care? Why are you reading my blog then?
But in summary.
- DNA tests only give broad brush strokes of your ancestry. There is no marker for being (say) Celtic or Germanic. At best they tell you you are descended (say) from someone from the British Isles, or Western Europe. These tests are more likely to throw in a curve ball for you, like you have African heritage, or NO British heritage.
- These tests are measuring a portion of your DNA, where they expect to find a three “letter” code, and it has changed potentially changed by a single letter. These are known as Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs). These are not unique to any ethnic group, but some have been shown to have a higher proportion of one over another.
- The assigning of say “British Isles” heritage may vary depending on the company testing. Don’t get too attached to the results, or up in arms over them. As I’ve blogged I am either 1% Polynesian (from an old test I did at University in 2010), 1% African (according to Ancestry.com) or 1% Greek (according to another site, using the Ancestry data, but a different data base to compare it too).
Take all that and remember this.
Culture does not get transmitted by your DNA. You must learn it from someone. You are not born speaking the language, knowing the songs, the rituals, the sports. You learn that. So you could be a Pakistani born in Glasgow, who wears plaid and plays the bagpipes, and be more Scottish than someone in the USA who has done all the research into their ancestral clan (of course forgetting they are more than one Clan in heritage).
If you feel drawn to a spiritual path, because of your actual or perceived ancestry, more power to you. But even if your DNA test agrees with your personal gnoses, it still does not mean you are any more that culture than anyone else is. Chances are you are drawn to a pre-Christian Indo-European path. That means you are at least 1000 years if not longer removed from that culture. Your more recent ancestors were all most likely Christian. So you are choosing to follow a path, and you are justifying it, based on something that is not actually so.
IF you can’t cope with this idea. Its not my fault. But be honest, you have all chosen this path on some level. I know I did.
A little retelling of my pagan history.
In High school (a Scottish Presbyterian private school I got a scholarship too, my mother worked to keep me in, and my absent father was made to pay to send me too) I identified initially as an atheist. But by what Americans would call my freshman year (the school was 7 years not 4, combining middle and High School) I had decided to walk the path that is today called heathenry. By the time I went to my first year of University that changed to “Celtic” Paganism. That began as “Druidry” but has over the decades become Celtic Reconstructionism. I did not go there, because I was drawn by ancestors, no I liked the myths, and Legends. Once there, the Gods (one in particular) drew me in deeper, but I can’t blame my DNA.
So moral of the story? Don’t be a racist prick. I’ll go after you 🙂