Genes And Environment
So, what makes a man that he is? There are two important factors – biological and social. I have always wondered if one played a more important role than the other. It is quite hard to conclude.
For the most part, we all agree that the way you look, your mannerisms and health are all the courtesy of your genes. I am sure the doctors agree too. That’s why they are very keen on the family’s medical history, not just yours.
What about hobbies, interests and character? Is that not a byproduct of the upbringing? I think so. Sure, genes have their role to play, but it’s more of the world around you which matters.
For example, at our home, we subscribed to tens of newspapers and magazines. We have thousands of books at home!!! So, this obviously made me read and write. Isn’t it as simple as that? Sure, the fact that my mother and my grandfather are voracious readers and good writers also helped. By the way, my grandfather, who is 105 years old just wrote a letter to me last week. He is getting younger everyday.
There are many reasons why I want to believe that the environment plays a more important role than the genes. I know a certain Kannada writer whose sons do not have much interest in literature. The writer is an idol for millions of readers all over Karnataka, but his sons were famous for being quite ‘rowdies’ during their school days. Maybe the writer was always immersed in his work and maybe his kids fell into bad company.
And, we invariably hear the stories of good children with bad parents and vice versa. Even mythology talks about Hiranyakashipu and Prahlada. It certainly is not that simple. Infact, it is quite hard for me to believe that the child will be so different from the parent. But, at the same time, I am convinced that if your surroundings are strong enough to change you and your perspective, then anything is possible.
At the end of the day, I do believe that both genes and environment play a huge role in who we are. But, I do tend to tilt more towards the environment playing a bigger role.
Let me conclude this post with an incident which happened at Chicago Kannada Sahitya Sammelana last month. After I finished my presentation on stage, a nice lady came by and said that seeing me on stage reminded her so much of my father and that I looked exactly like him. She knew that my father had passed away recently. But, I certainly knew that she was being kind to me and that there was absolutely no truth in whatever she said. Laughing is not all that respectful, so I just smiled at her and continued with my small talk. And, this incident certainly sealed my belief that it is the environment, more than genes, which plays an important role.