Friday, April 2, 2010

How has knowing your genealogy influenced your life?

Almost all of the persons interviewed in the episodes of Who Do You Think You Are say the same thing after discovering their family history - "This has changed who I thought I was." Really? In what way? Are you not the same person you were before searching your roots? Does an apple tree start producing pears if it suddenly finds itself grafted onto pear tree roots when all along it thought - I'm an apple tree. I have apple roots.

I'm sure that the producers insist that somewhere in their search, the celebrities avouch these very words, thus to tie in to the show's title, but I think better their words should convey how discovering their family history will now have an influence on their life. Will they become a better person because of it? Or are they ashamed of what they found? Not just them, but any of us. Before passing judgement on our ancestors' lives for good or ill, we should look to our own lives. Is my life bringing honor to my ancestors and what they have provided for me? We all walk paths paved with the sweat and blood of all those who have gone before us, ancestor or not. Are we worthy to walk that path? Are we honoring that path?

Which takes me right back to the poem in my very first post on this blog.

If You Could See Your Ancestors

If you could see your ancestors,
All standing in a row,
Would you be proud of them,
Or don't you really know?

Some strange discoveries are made
In climbing family trees;
And some of them, you know,
Do not particularly please.

If you could see your ancestors,
All standing in a row,
There might be some of them, perhaps,
You wouldn't care to know.

But there's another question
Which requires a different view ...
If you could "meet" your ancestors,
Would they be proud of you?

Author Unknown

Finally my question is - How has knowing or discovering your family tree influenced your life?

I would appreciate any comments with your answers to that question.

For myself this is a difficult question to answer, because I have known for most of my life my ancestral pedigree. Of course, in doing research over the years, my knowledge has broadened, but I have always known more or less where my ancestors came from, who they were and what they were. I feel as if I were born for this work. From the age of about twelve I started doing genealogy. My father was always big on family and had some records to start me on my journey. I have expanded these over the years through research. And for my mother's family, I was able to tie into someone else's extensive research at an early age, so I grew up with an awareness of my family tree on both sides.

So to ask how has it influenced my life is difficult to answer, because I don't know what it is like not knowing my tree. Certainly I have a sense of family, probably more so than my siblings, as I know the branches and distant relatives that they don't.

In watching the episode of Who Do You Think You Are with Matthew Broderick I could see a change in him as he came to learn of and gain an appreciation of his grandfathers' selfless military service, but how that influenced his life from then on is something that wasn't or couldn't be shared in such a limited media.

But I think Brooke Shields stated the influence on her life best when she said, "Being able to find yourself in the grand scheme of things, there's something very empowering about it. By going on this journey I feel more complete as a person. It has been very freeing to me . . . I do feel part of something bigger."

Yes, you realize you are not alone in the world. You are part of something bigger - a plan. That is empowering. That knowledge can strengthen us as we go about our day-to-day lives, dealing with the hardships and heartaches of life. We know that our family has dealt with the same things before us. All of our lives are part of something bigger a whole secession of "bigger". We all come to this earth for a reason. And part of that reason is played out in the families to which we come. Don't underestimate your value or your purpose to your family ahead of you and behind you.

No comments: