The Future: Who Holds It?

Our genes are not our fate, and if we make these changes—they're a predisposition—but if we make bigger changes than we might have made otherwise, we can actually change how our genes are expressed

Rajat Chauhan
Updated: Jan 16, 2014 02:12:44 PM UTC

For time immemorial, we humans have given too much self-importance but also have accepted our 'fate' when it comes to the following question: 'Who knows what the future holds?' It's simply the wrong question. It should be more on the lines of 'Who holds the future?'

And do you know who does? You do.

We have also given way too much importance to the two extremes of time. One is eternity and then the other is now. We talk about eternity as if we can even remotely comprehend it. The Big Bang, it is estimated, happened over 13.7 billion years ago and the sun will last for approximately another 5 billion years. And that's not eternity yet. Even if we start counting these numbers and take one second for one year, in one century we would only be able to count up to 3.15 billion. Remember, we would have been long gone in the first 2 minutes alone. Point again being, our 70-100 years on planet Earth are very insignificant.

On the other hand we have now. Now is right here. It was the case when you were born. It will be the case the moment you die. George Carlin was once asked, "What was the time now?" He replied, "Are you asking me what is the time now or should I tell you the time, what it was, when you asked me?" Read that again. He was the greatest philosopher of his time.

Both in philosophical and medical terms, we often hear that ‘time is great healer’. No, it’s not. It’s a great healer when you do something with it. But it’s nothing if you simply sit on your backside and keep waiting for things to happen.

Just yesterday, two medical research studies were reported widely in media. One gave us another excuse to blame the past and our genes for diabetes. 60,000–70,000 years ago, when modern humans were leaving Africa, they interbred with the Neanderthals. The Neanderthals had lived across Europe and western Asia from about 400,000–300,000 years ago until 30,000 years ago. This led to Neanderthal genes being scattered across the genomes of all non-Africans living today. (BBC news: Diabetes risk 'from Neanderthal’) People who have these high risk genes, are claimed to have 25 percent higher chance of diabetes and a 50 percent chance if inherited copies from both parents. Up to half of the people with Native American ancestry have these genes. The variant is found in about 20 percent of East Asians and is rare in populations from Europe and Asia.

But another medical study suggested that even slight changes in diet and physical activity by South Asian families were enough to improve their chances of losing weight to lower their risk of Type 2 diabetes.

The story that blamed the genes had approximately 2,800 clicks in less than 24 hours, whereas the one that suggested that you could be in control of your future had only 1,100 clicks in over 72 hours on the same news website (BBC). That says enough about us as a society.

Dr Dean Ornish, a clinical professor at UCSF and founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, said, "Our genes are not our fate, and if we make these changes—they're a predisposition—but if we make bigger changes than we might have made otherwise, we can actually change how our genes are expressed."

A casino owner once said, "When you get an opportunity, hold it by its balls and make it do what you desire. It'll happily oblige. That's what your destiny is." The same holds true for the future. At times, it might mean following the casino owner's suggestion. If you need it badly enough, so be it. You just might never get another chance.

The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.

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