How Researching Our Ancestors Teaches Us Modern Lessons
While many eagerly scour ancestry sites discovering their lineage, there are those who find it frivolous and unnecessary. Sure, it tugs at our ego a bit to learn we are descendants of kings and conquerors, and yet it’s more than from whom we are descendants, but the understanding that we share our DNA with some of the greatest people in history. It is enough to inspire us to take the walk down ancestral lane.
Despite our rich history, those of us of European culture have less honor for those who came before us than other cultures. Ancient and Native cultures revere their ancestors raising them to the status of Gods and Goddesses. In the East, holidays such as Tomb Sweeping Day celebrate their ancestors. Honor and celebrating are ways of maintaining our ancestors’ wisdom, even though they may be thousands of years past.
Learning the History of our Ancestors
For most people who delve into their ancestry, it’s more than the desire to know who their ancestors were, it is a deep dive into history. Those historical personalities we read about in school become real as we imagine them our grandfathers and grandmothers. History becomes personalized regardless of the history and we acknowledge them not for their historical achievements and status but as great grandfather and great grandmother. They are now family.
While many cling to the fascination of being descendants of royalty (most of us are), there is also much to learn from ancestors of more humble existences from merchants, artisans, healers, even peasants and slaves. There is no doubt when we learn of our ancestors, we want to get to know them better through their successes and hardships.
Understand their Story
There is always more to history than what is written in text books. History has a bias that is for certain, so when a specific ancestor sparks our interest, we want to know their story. Who were they really? It creates this desire to research and read of their time and their way of life and in doing so we are drawing in a connection to us. We relate to them and carry their messages into our modern life.
We may not understand what the correlation is between our ancestors and us. What could we possibly have in common with a king and queen? If today, we reached a status of wealth today, how can we relate to our peasant ancestors?
Regardless of our ancestors, they their stories remain inside us (dormant or awake). Imagine, we share similar genetic code to those in our ancestral lineage. Inside us today, many of us are all kings and conquerors, peasants and slaves due to the grand matrix of ancestry. Think of it as a pool of genes within us, shared physical features, as well as their stories. We all are a complex mixture of victories and defeats within us. Imagine the thousands of years of genetic codes in our DNA and how it shapes humanity today.
As of now, no one has built a time machine to go back and heal our ancestors. Many died from plague, were killed in wars and even genocides. Many of our ancestors suffered everything from famine to heartache. We can’t go back and save them, but we can save ourselves.
What we can do is understand these pains, as well as, joys reside in us. As we engage with history not with an intellectualized, pragmatic and often biased manner, but as humans we can look at our humanity (past and present) with compassion, by having an understanding of who they were, what their concerns were and the era in which they lived. We can forgive that part of us which is tormented, we can free the part of us which was enslaved, heal the sicknesses in our heart and mind and give joy to the loves of our ancestors.
Understanding we carry the weight of thousands of years in our DNA, imagine how it can help humanity if we let it go, set it free to start again.