19 May 2010

The best theory we have is that all of us alive today, males and females, carry the mitochondrial DNA of one woman who lived in Africa about 150 000 years ago. All males alive today carry the Y-chromosome of one man who lived there about 70 000 years ago. The dates are for question but everyone in Cornwall, indeed everyone from the world, is ultimately related and ultimately from Africa.

We have a common origin and we are all members of the same human family.

Of course many people develop sentiments about the place they think of as home and of course from place to place, group to group, and time to time people have constructed cultures. However, nothing should blind us to our common origins and heritage. All of us in Cornwall are, without exception, either immigrants ourselves or the descendants of immigrants to this place. None of our original families began here in Cornwall. Arguing that my great-great-grandfather got here before yours is for playgrounds.

It is disappointing to hear the narcissism that is Cornish nationalism proclaim imagined difference, divisive diversity, and census apartheid. Mine may be a small voice against the nationalist clangour about claimed distinctiveness but I say such separatism sucks. Don’t build walls between people, tear them down.

Wordsworth had it right:
“We multiply distinctions, then
Deem that our puny boundaries are things
That we perceive, and not that we have made.”

Earlier posts
What does it mean to be Cornish? 1 October 2009

Atomising people 12 September 2008

We multiply distinctions… William Wordsworth The prelude book 2, line 217 onwards