December 12, 2016

"Memory is Moral"

Memory is Moral: Why Every Man Should Do His Genealogy

Up until the 20th century, a man’s roots — his ancestry — formed an important part of his identity. ..In the 19th century, it was typical for homes in Europe and the U.S. to prominently display a family Bible that had been passed down through the generations with the birth and/or death dates of ancestors inscribed in the front. Parents and grandparents told children and grandchildren stories about the brave deeds done by their forebearers and the dignified lives previous generations had lived, admonishing them never to act in a way that would sully their lineage.

In the hyper-individualistic and present-focused culture of the 21st century, interest in one’s heritage and family ties has waned — to our ultimate detriment.....Recently, I decided to start researching my family history, and have discovered that genealogy is far more fascinating than I thought. In fact, it’s downright addicting.

You might consider getting started with doing your genealogy for the same simple reason you’d research any historical topic: it’s just plain intrinsically interesting to learn about the past. Yet to me the most compelling reason to do your genealogy is something very different: the fulfillment of an ethical obligation to your ancestors.

You may never have thought about it that way, but memory is moral....Here's Why   
Gratitude Has No Expiration Date....

More Than a Family Tree: The Story of You
InIn our modern era, the idea that we’re self-created individuals pervades our culture.  However, this atomized conception of identity couldn’t be further from the truth.  A large part of who you are today comes directly from your line of ancestors.

For starters, much of both your looks and your temperament were bequeathed to you by virtue of genetic inheritance. That cleft in your chin, and your penchant for melancholy, have been passed down from generation to generation. But besides genetics, you’ve also inherited the choices your forbearers made.....

Understanding details like those in your family history gives you a deeper, fuller appreciation of where you came from and who you are. It makes you think more about the choices you’re making now and how they might affect your posterity.  In getting to know your genealogy, you come to see yourself as part of a much bigger story — one that didn’t start with you, and won’t end with you either. One in which you’re playing a role in shaping the future narrative. It’s not surprising then, that research suggests that when we have intimate knowledge of our family history, we feel more grounded and self-confident compared to individuals who don’t.

Memory Is Redemptive
Every person dies twice.  The first death comes when their body physically expires.  The second occurs when their name is spoken for the last time.

For those people whose posterity does their genealogy, however, their memory never dies. Their name is read and known by he who first compiles a family tree, and by all the individuals who come after and keep sacred the record.

Viewed in this light, genealogy is an act of redemption. Through our family history research, we can save our ancestors — even the lowliest and most apt to be forgotten — from the second death.
Posted by Jill Fallon at December 12, 2016 10:21 AM | Permalink