William Edelen: It’s In the Genes — The Bright Light of Truth

eMy maternal grandparents: Papa and Mama Deaver

The Contrary Minister

Over the entire 40 years that I have been writing “religious” columns… I have received, literally, hundreds of letters, emails, and phone calls saying “THANK YOU… for setting me free from the mental prison of organized doctrine and dogma”. Maybe my column today will have a similar effect on human lives, suffering from this issue.

My subject is about ‘GENETICS’ and family history. Why am I writing about that? Because TRUTH matters. And truth is not as bad as our ignorant and half formed fears about it. Everybody today is knowledgeable about DNA (genetics) and its value in family history… relationships… paternity… and so forth. But many remain ignorant about the value of genetics in shaping a human being with values and personality traits and habits. “MAN IS A THINKING MUTANT,” wrote Pascal. And so it is.

I remember so well my own Bachelor of Science degree in Biology (Horticulture) at Oklahoma State University. The most fascinating class I had was in Genetics. And especially how it shone a light on the genetic inheritance among males in a family. I remember going home one day and telling my father that I got almost NOTHING (no traits) from him. It seems almost mystical at times. I personally am almost NOTHING like my father but much more closely resemble my mother’s father, on a homestead in West Texas, and also mixed with my father’s mother and academic influence. Such genetic influence has been well proven.

Well, my father was FURIOUS when I told him that in our living room. He almost yelled at me: “Son… you mean you get almost nothing from me?” I said, “Yes, that is true.” (I wanted to say…”thank god”). I learned that genetic influences often by-pass the immediate progeny and skip to the next generation. That is a genetic truth well proven in my own life.

My own father’s obsession with money, and the cruelty he inflicted upon his family, (wife and children) as a result of that obsession, was a mental illness, for which he was treated with electric shocks to the brain in his later years. I used the word “obsession” over money, for him. Although he earned a substantial living, he let his wife, me and my sister almost freeze to death in ZERO degree Oklahoma temperature because he would not buy a heater for the car.

Most male babies are circumcised early in life. I was entering my puberty years when he had me circumcised by a doctor on a weekend at the doctor’s home, on a porch. (All to save money)… I can describe to you TODAY (at age 92) in vivid detail the porch where this took place. The pain I will never forget.

When I returned from Korea, as a US MARINE PILOT… having been decorated by the Commandant of the Corps for Valor, at the Commandants home in Washington, D.C. my father said, “Well son, you are going to need some civilian clothes. I will buy you a new suit.” I thought, “Wow…what a change.” The “wow” did not last long… if you can believe this, he took me to a “fire sale” where all the clothes were used and smelled of smoke. He SAVED money at my HUMILIATION.

In another attempt to save money, my father hired an unlicensed handyman to install the electrical wiring in our home in Oklahoma City. The home burned to the ground one day, and our family lost all of our possessions… I including all of my National medals and awards for oratorical achievement, as well as my Eagle Scout awards. I could go on PAGES… but enough. You see why I thought “THANK GOD” in genetics I got NOTHING from him.

Today, when I think of my values and interests and passions for the simplistic life style of my maternal grandparents, who were “earth people”… combined with paternal grandfather’s academic propensity… it explains my own passion for study and academics… and the mystery of living close to the earth and plants and animals… and I know I have inherited the very best of both worlds from both grandfathers… as well as the optimistic spirit of my Grandmother Deaver.

I am eternally grateful for my study of genetics and knowledge of “inherited traits”… as it truly explains ME… and I am so comfortable with that. Maybe this will help you also, dear reader, as my columns on religion have done. I hope so.