Apart from the limitations of DNA ancestry testing, the video raises some interesting questions that tell us that it may be a good educational resource, but not for the reasons we heard about in social fora:
- Is prejudice a biological or social construct?
- Is knowing your DNA a cure for prejudice?
- Is prejudice in our DNA?
- Do we really need biological reasons to remind us to be open-minded?
The video has an aim: to create openness to others. We challenge this notion and think that this is not what it does. We think this “experiment” is not uniting. It is again dividing and teaching to respect/like people who are the same as us. The result is “if I don’t have the same DNA as ‘Bulgarians’, then I don’t like them; but if I do, I will start liking them”. It is again that we don’t respect/like human beings in general. The only difference is that before “knowing my DNA”, I only liked ‘Lithuanians’. Now I will add a few more other “nations”, with whom I share the same DNA, to my “likes”.
The video raises many other questions, including whether and to what extent can we expect knowledge (even purely scientific as in this video) to have an impact on our attitudes concerning issues that are so emotionally and politically sensitive.
It is for these ethical questions that we find that the video can be a good educational resource, not for the initial reasons professed by commentators. Raising our capacity for empathy, or developing competences for respect, tolerance and realising the interconnectedness of humanity is a value-based activity. Steering us away from that and making us believe that developing these competences is a biologically-based activity is quite a dangerous endeavour that undermines the fact that:
No matter who we are,
we share a common destiny as humans.
Is DNA so vital? Should we be aware of more defining elements of identity? For example, sometimes our birth order in our family, or the people we meet, etc. makes a much bigger impact on our lives than our DNA.
If we say “we all are unique”, there is no more to this line, DNA or not.
Pascale Monpoint-Gaillard & Rasa Askinyte Degesiene