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09:58 pm: Warrior Gene Redux

One last thought on the Warrior gene.

Based on a semi-casual survey of three SNPs from my 23 and me data, I do not carry this gene. Yet, when I started looking into this, my guess was that from experience, I have a strong built-in desire to punish the wrong-doers – and a little extra hit of the hot sauce sounds like a great way to do it.

So what gives? I’ve got a measurement that says I don’t carry the trait for – loosely – being willing to pay out-of-pocket to punish a wrongdoer. However, I’ve got experience and evidence that says that not only do I *feel* such urges – I will actually *do* so unless I actively monitor myself and nip those urges in the bud.

And so we come to the crux of it. There are some questions where the genes give clear, unambiguous answers. “Yes, this tissue came from that person.” “Yes, you have Huntington’s Disease.” For most others, particularly with regard to behavior and perception, the genes do little more than set the stage. I find a strong connection here with one of the interpretations of karma. I was born as a certain body, with certain proclivities and certain traits. I happen to be very lucky in that regard. I’ve got a healthy body, a decent mind, and so on. Other factors outside my control have helped as well. I was born to highly educated parents in a rich and powerful nation. Then we come to the things within my control, and my reaction to stressors and jackasses is one of them. While I do have certain reactions – they could be much worse.

Finding out that I don’t have this particular gene actually strengthens my compassion for folks who flip out and lose their temper on a regular basis. What would it be like to constantly be on a high tide of emotion? What would it be like to be unable to hold back tears? Maybe that’s why the driver in the next lane is honking frantically – or the person behind me at the retail checkout is huffing and bumping me.

What I take away from it is that – on the grand scheme of things – I probably have an easier time controlling this particular urge than other people do. However difficult it is to be me, I still probably have it easier than most.

For me, at least, that’s been a broad truth in this whole exploration. Everywhere I look, there are horrible conditions, situations, and proclivities that I do not share. Everywhere I look – I seem to have it pretty good, compared with what could have been.

Originally published at chris.dwan.org. You can comment here or there.

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