99.9% Identical

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The woman looks at the bag, a bit unsure of its contents. Slowly and almost hesitantly, she opens it up, and a huge smile sweeps over her face. Inside is a pink baby gown and a soft baby cloth to wrap her newborn in – a gift from the hospital.

I am at LifeSpring (www.lifespring.in), where I will be working for the next nine months (a time period not lost on someone now working at a maternity hospital!) I’ve spent the last few days completely immersed in its operations: sitting with the doctor as she consults with each woman…sitting in the ultrasound room, watching images of unborn babies on the tiny square screen…sitting with pediatricians as they vaccinate dozens of children…sitting with customers in the waiting room…and easily the best part: watching the customers leave the hospital, healthy new addition in tow!

In the last blog post, Catherine brought up Harvard’s Commencement speech. I am reminded of this year’s other speaker. Bill Clinton commented that: “Human beings, with their three billion genomes, are 99.9 percent identical genetically…Don’t you think it’s interesting that [we]…spend 90 percent of our lives thinking about that one-tenth of one percent?”

Sure, the cultural practices around childbirth may differ around the world. I watch fascinated, as family members circle the new mother’s head with a coconut…then the baby’s head…then break the coconut on the ground before leaving hospital grounds.

But there’s nothing like holding a LifeSpring baby to remind me how similar and connected we all are. Indeed, I am reminded of something Jacqueline Novogratz said before the fellows left: “We all want the same thing – a life full of meaning, a life full of purpose, a life full of dignity.”

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