Recently, I’ve been studying our family genealogy book, Wendel Miller and his Descendants. It’s been a powerful experience, sometimes exasperating, but always illuminating. I’m a little surprised that it has taken me so long to embrace my family history. However, if truth be told, I have legitimate reasons for this slow journey towards self-knowledge. Blest with the strength to forgive, I am at last letting painful memories of an abusive childhood go.
My father’s mother, Carrie Josephine Miller Frye, was born a double Miller. Two gene copies of the German immigrant, wealthy planter, and revolutionary war patriot, Lieutenant Wendel Miller, are carried in her bloodline. Carrie’s father was born from Wendel’s first wife, a full-blooded Cherokee, and Carrie’s mother was born from Wendel’s second wife, Christina. I know what you are thinking….it’s not that bad – her parents were 5th and 4th generations removed respectively, kissing cousins.
But the really weird part becomes evident in the compilation of 2 distinctly separate indexes: one for each wife. My great-grandparents, John Samuel Melanthan Miller and Mary Jane Antinette Miller Miller, and their descendents are only acknowledged in the second index. A more disturbing omission emerges when looking for my great-grandfather. Even though John was born from Wendel’s first wife, he is only listed once in the second index as Mary’s husband. Strange, huh?
Whatever the reasons for omitting the double nature of my ancestry, simplification or shame, our genealogy compilers selectively recorded the family history and in so doing, reframed memory. The power to suppress knowledge lies as close to us as our own parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles: those in charge of our well-being; those with full access to information; those with power and willingness to cover up.
Is that not precisely what our government is doing by covertly mandating torture upon foreign soils? If, under the guise of terrorism, we allow the justice system to be manipulated, then later our government can commit the same crimes by virtue of simplification. The violation of human rights becomes all too easy to accept as our historically sacred rights continue to be whittled away.
Because we deny our connections with the whole when denying the few, I BELIEVE IN MERCY, LOVE, AND COMPASSION for all people: accused terrorists, as well as politicians who deny human rights for whatever reasons, democracy included. I believe that until the strong advocate for the least among us, particularly the children of the oppressed, we can never truly be free. I believe that as we, the people of a united world, joining to form a more perfect union, strive to realize unity, peace, and love in each of our hearts, reconciliation will become an unalienable Right and war will become no more.
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