With all the extra time on my hands as a result of Gov. Tom Wolf’s stay-at-home order due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I have reflected on the many “pearls of wisdom” or truths I have learned or was taught over the years.
The loss of traditional high school graduations across this nation due to closed schools and social distancing rules, and then the unspeakable death May 25 of George Floyd at the hands of former Minneapolis, Minn., police officer Derek Chauvin, while three other officers watched, really brought into focus the constant and ongoing struggle between good and evil.
The following are some of the truths on which I ruminated during the past few weeks:
• There are evil people in this world. Suffice to say anyone, who can kneel on another person’s neck for more than 8 minutes while that person is saying he cannot breathe, is evil.
• There are more good people in this world than there are evil people, or this civilization would have long ago collapsed.
With most high school graduations canceled, families, friends, teachers and school district administrators from across the Lehigh Valley have gone out of their way to make what would have been graduation day special for the Class of 2020.
From drive-by graduation ceremonies to signs featuring the graduate’s likeness placed on front lawns to delivering gift baskets, good people living within or working for the school district have glowingly demonstrated the altruism inherent in their genes.
• There is no biological basis for race. After earning a degree in biology and natural science, and just from common sense, I knew this as a truth well before June 2000 when the results of the Genome Project were announced during a ceremony at the White House.
“The concept of race has no genetic or scientific basis,” Craig Venter, a pioneer of DNA sequencing, stated matter of factly.
Race is a social construct; it is not a biological reality. We all came out of Africa; we all are the children of “Eve,” but the concept of “race” was created in Philadelphia.
Dr. Samuel Morton, a scientist from Philadelphia, collected skulls during the first half of the 19th century. He initially filled the skulls with pepper seeds. Later, he switched to lead shot and measured the volume of the brain case.
Morton asserted people could be divided into five “races,” each represented by separate acts of creation. Each “race” had a place in a divine hierarchy.
Morton claimed his “craniometry” showed that whites, or “caucasians,” were the most intelligent of the races.
East Asians, which Morton called “Mongolian,” were one step down. Next were Southeast Asians, followed by Native Americans. Blacks, or “Ethiopians,” were at the bottom.
Morton’s ideas were eagerly adopted by the defenders of slavery in the decades before America’s Civil War.
According to Jason Treat and Ryan T. Williams, NGM staff, from Sarah Tishkoff, University of Pennsylvania, the truth, however, is the color of one’s skin, the lightness or darkness of one’s skin has many origins.
A key gene mutation promoting lighter skin (SLC24A5) occurred 29,000 years ago in Asia and later spread into Europe.
In addition, genes randomly mutate. Beneficial mutations tend to be passed on to offspring and then spread through a population.
I cringe each time I hear the word “racism” coming out of the mouths of television reporters, politicians and the average man on the street since the murder of George Floyd and the resulting protests.
The correct term is “scapegoating,” which according to Merriam Webster dictionary, is the practice of singling out a person or group for unmerited blame and consequent negative treatment.
The key word in the definition is “unmerited.” This happened to the Jewish people in Nazi Germany at the hands of Adolf Hitler during World War II and throughout history.
Race, as it relates to humans, Homo sapiens, does not exist. Therefore, racism cannot exist.
We might as well single out people with blue eye color or red hair for abuse, segregation and second-class treatment.
All people are of African descent, no matter the lightness or darkness of their skin — and we all deserve to be treated humanely.
Continuing to maintain the delusion of separate “races” has long passed.
We are all brothers and sisters.