Our world seems like it is on fire at the moment. Literally. Jungles and forests are burning in Brazil and Indonesia. Children and teens are protesting climate change. Ice caps are melting. In a political sense, instability and division are the order of the day. No matter where you live or how you identify politically, no one knows what’s coming next and we’re all a little bit terrified.
In this context, society’s current obsession with ancestry DNA tests seems a little naive. What difference does our ancient history make when our immediate future is up in the balance?
But ancestry tests may actually provide deeper truths that provide some of the stability we’re struggling to achieve. A good ancestry test will not only tell you so much about your own history but that of your entire family. Here’s why it may be worth it.
As a child, my first history lesson was about the reason we should care about history. My teacher explained how we learn the lessons of the past so that we don’t repeat our mistakes. This seems more poignant now than ever. Society is a little caught up in the semantics of using historical terms, and instead of applying the lessons of the past, we like to keep them in the past.
But ancestry teaches us lessons that are easier to swallow, without the unavoidable associations that come with mention of more recent tragedies and wars. When you find out about your ancestors, you learn a few things. The first is that we have more stability than they could ever have imagined. Even if things seem up in the air right now, we at least know where our next meal is coming from.
The second is that all of our opinions and principles don’t need to divide us. On the contrary, we have more of a shared understanding today than ever. More importantly, when it comes down to the brass tacks, we all come from the same place. The differences that appear so insurmountable now were nonexistent hundreds or thousands of years ago.
Furthermore, ancestry tests can provide a little more stability in our lives in more ways than you think. One of the significant uses of DNA testing is to find out what genetic diseases we are at risk of. We can learn if there is a particular cancer that we need to test for regularly. We can also learn if we carry any genetic conditions that we could pass down to our children.
Illness is one of the most frightening aspects of life, as you can never truly know if it’s going to strike. However, DNA testing can give you a surer footing, preparing you for what may be lifesaving treatment (or prevention).
Our world feels very uncertain at the moment, but if we look back at history, we have more certainty than the vast majority of humans ever had. It’s important to keep things in perspective, and looking at our distant pasts can help us achieve that goal.