This I Believe

Kenneth - Mayfield, Kentucky
Entered on January 23, 2009
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: family, legacy

This I Believe

Most of us think our religious, political and life perspectives are the result of our own hard work, research and intelligence. However, scientists are now saying that our early childhood environment and our DNA directly affect our health, thoughts, personalities and life span. Unfortunately, most of us take for granted our family history and think little of our past ancestors. We make the mistake of assuming that our own merits make us who we are. Our busy daily schedules give us little time to look back at history and appreciate the contributions of our ancestors to our lives today.

I believe that our past family history defines most of our life perspectives and most of these perspectives remain with us for the rest of our lives. For example, why do very intelligent people have different perspectives and different religious beliefs, yet one Bible? As a nation, why is it so hard to write our laws? Our laws are so complex that our Supreme Court Judges cannot agree on their interpretation. Why do lawyers sometimes spend hours in courts picking a jury with a slighted perspective for their clients? Why do most of us vote in our nation’s elections based solely on political affiliation and not on the issues?

It does not take a rocket scientist to answer most of our questions. If we were born in Germany, we would speak and act like Germans or if in China, we would speak and act like Chinese. Therefore, it makes sense that a large part of “who we are” is directly dependent on our family history and our early environment. We cannot know where our life perspectives came from or begin to understand them, without first knowing how our ancestors lived and developed their life perspectives. It is only then that we can begin to appreciate the sacrifices of our ancestors, see why they made their decisions and see how they have affected us.

Our ancestors wanted the right to believe and speak freely without the threat of harassment. The very nature of our immigrant fathers leaving their former homelands instilled in them an anti-authoritarian attitude. With this attitude, our ancestors rebelled against English rule and fought against brother, neighbor, and father in a Civil War that killed over 620,000 Americans. In addition, they rebelled against the authority of the Catholic and Anglican Churches. Again, with their anti-authoritarian attitude, they established many of our Protestant religions with each strongly defending their interpretation of the Bible as being the only one that is correct.

It is interesting that with their newfound religion, they justified slavery and the stealing of Indian lands. In addition, it would take another 150 years to remove many of the restrictive rights of women and those of the African Americans. I therefore believe it is the responsibility of all of us to look at our family history before we give the credit to ourselves for what we believe.