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Our Ancestors; Heroes or Villains




The memory of the righteous is a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot.


Proverbs 10:7 ESV




It is true that no one has control over his family origin. I also think it is equally true, that although we rarely stop and think about it, those who went before us affect us today. With that mindset I have done today what I have long threatened to do. I have sent off my two swabs in the mail to ancestry.com in order to discover the dark secrets of my past. Having rolled them around inside my cheek for 30 seconds, I stuck them in their little water bottles and trotted off to the post office to begin a search of my family story. I am breaming with excitement; I am breathless with anticipation. I am also a little bit on edge as I peer over the edge to see what my family has been up to for the last several hundred years. What revelations will surface from the profiteers of human chemistry? Will the lab rats drudge up something I will henceforth hide with shame for my family? Per chance, I am descended from a long line of villains or sprung from dastardly folks who preyed on society. On the other hand, maybe I am a relative of a kingly line and am living far below my family’s expectations. Oh, the pressure that would bear upon me. Will I be driven to sail to parts unknown and reclaim a kingdom on some island in the Pacific where the natives are waiting for the return of their sovereign? Chances are, neither of those extremes are true, but I shall soon find out.



What spurs my interest? Is it something beyond idle curiosity? I’m honestly not sure what prompts me dig up the past. Perhaps it is something deep within me that desires to understand the fabric from which I have been cut. Whoever they were, they certainly had the courage to leave their homeland and forge a new country in a dangerous wilderness. But, as I think about it, that is not true of all Americans. Some were forced here against their will and have suffered unjust treatment at the hands of others. There are Americans who have lived here for thousands of years and have seen their lands strip from them as the “trail of tears” would attest. But regardless, I remember the words of Flip Wilson, a comedian from the 70s, who said, “we may have all come over on different ships but we’re all in the same boat now.”


We cannot alter the past, but we can learn from it. We can see it for all that it was, the good and the bad, and grow from the experience. But there is something beyond that that I believe is important to note. We have all gained something from those who went before us and it is important to understand that we leave something behind us. Every day should be lived with the thought of the heritage that we leave our children and grandchildren and beyond. Someday they may be looking into our grainy picture and what stories will be told? I’ll let you know what I find out in a month.

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