Honoring fathers and mothers
0 comment Monday, October 20, 2014 |
Recently I linked to this piece, called Pride & Guilt, from the Cordelia for Lear blog.
If you haven't read it yet, please do. We are getting more forcible doses of guilt because of who we are, and who our ancestors were, so we need to compensate for that by focusing on what we have to be proud of, rather than continue to let others define us and heap guilt on us.
From the above-linked piece:
'We have larger loyalties that are analogous to our feelings for our children. Whether it is our nation, our ethnicity, or our race, there are broader groups for which we feel a familial loyalty. Our nation or race is, in effect, our extended family in the largest sense, and our feelings for our extended family are a dilute, but broader version of what we feel for close kin. We have these feelings because this group is biologically and culturally part of us in a way no other group can be.
Who will sing your songs, pray your prayers, celebrate your heroes, honor your traditions, venerate your ancestors, love the things you love? Only your family, your extended family. Only your extended family will carry your civilization forward in a meaningful way. Only the biological heirs to the people who created a civilization have ever maintained, cherished, and advanced that civilization.''
[Emphasis mine]
I was party to a discussion in which some were lamenting that most Americans are content to let themselves be defined negatively and to be laden with guilt because they lack a real sense of who they are, where they came from, and they are bereft of any sense of pride in their supposedly non-existent culture.
Remember the quotes from Christian Lander (''Stuff White People Like") in that odious article on 'The End of White America'?
For Lander, whiteness has become a vacuum. The "white identity" he limns on his blog is predicated on the quest for authenticity�usually other people�s authenticity. "As a white person, you�re just desperate to find something else to grab onto. You�re jealous! Pretty much every white person I grew up with wished they�d grown up in, you know, an ethnic home that gave them a second language. White culture is Family Ties and Led Zeppelin and Guns N� Roses�like, this is white culture. This is all we have."
For people who don't know who they are individually, or who their people are in a historical context, sadly, all they have is mass popular culture, which is above all, ephemeral, having no lasting value, nothing that will endure for the ages.
We constantly read articles in the increasingly hostile 'mainstream media' describing every immigrant culture as ''rich'' and ''vibrant'', as if to imply that our own cultures are dead (or moribund) and impoverished. And remember, this is in contrast to some Third-World culture which may be very primitive and crude. How does this come to be, that our Western culture which produced so many really great, truly sublime artists and thinkers and writers, is considered inferior to some ''culture'' which is one step away from the Stone Age? It may be rude to describe these 'vibrant' cultures in this way, but this constant vilification of our people and culture tends to produce the desire to respond with blunt truth, no matter how 'insensitive' it might sound to ears accustomed to politically correct lies and flatteries.
We have a culture and a heritage which is truly impressive, and which has produced great beauty as well as having devised many practical inventions which have improved everyday life for people the world over. And yet we are discouraged from taking any pride in it -- why is it, exactly? Because it may ''offend'' someone -- someone who could only be offended by his own sense of inferiority, probably.
We are not responsible for anyone's inferiority complex or their tendency to take offense; that's their problem.
It does seem as though we need to turn our attention more toward reviving interest in our cultural heritage, and to openly prefer it over the dross that is forced on us by political correctness -- inferior writers and ''artists'' whose careers are based on their representing the cult of victimhood.
And since I am a believer in the idea that culture and race go hand in hand, we need to look back at the history of our ancestors collectively, but also individually. How many Americans even know who their ancestors were beyond their grandparents? There is a growing interest in genealogy, without a doubt, but there are still far too many Americans who don't know anything of their family beyond their grandparents' generation. Some don't even know, for example, their grandmothers' maiden names. Many people have only the vaguest idea of what their ethnic origin(s) are. More depressingly, they don't care. They deem it irrelevant to their lives. They have no curiosity about where their ancestors came from or what their individual stories were.
I've alluded to genealogy occasionally on this blog; one of the fascinating things about knowing one's ancestry is that it gives an idea of just how many other Americans are potentially one's cousins. It makes one feel a real sense of kinship with many people. Because our family's collateral lines have also been traced out for some generations, I know that many of our kin settled in faraway states, and that I have cousins there whose names are known to me, but with whom I've never communicated. But I know that I have kin in many states, as well as in some foreign countries.
Reading about the lives of ancestors in old documents and putting the pieces together is also very fascinating, and it gives us a feeling of having a part in historical events, when we know that our ancestors, individually, were part of a given historical drama.
In some cases, my ancestors left writings which I have been able to read, and it's enthralling to read their own words, as if they are talking to me.
Many Americans have this odd idea that their ancestors were 'nobodies' or 'mutts' and that there is nothing of interest in the family line. How this idea became so widespread, I have no idea. But it stifles people's curiosity.
Some people are actually afraid that they will find that their ancestors were somehow bad people -- slaveowners, perhaps -- since we've all been pilloried for being the descendants of evil slaveholders. And it is true that even people in the supposedly more 'benign' Northern states owned slaves in the past; some of my New England ancestors did, I know. And more of my Southron ancestors did. Oddly I feel no guilt about that. We have to get over the tendency to try to distance ourselves from that. The past is the past; we cannot judge it by today's rather warped standards.
I think that knowing who we are, individually and as a people, can only give us more confidence and more of a sense of our place in history, and in the larger picture of us as Americans.
I suspect that if most Americans only knew their particular ancestry, they might very easily find that they have more English/British descent than they realize. There have been a number of genealogical 'urban legends' propagated, one of the most enduring being the ubiquitous ''Cherokee princess''. I've had to debunk this one more than once.
There is also an odd denial of Anglo-Saxon roots in favor of 'Celtic' roots in the South, which I have alluded to before. Where do Southron people think all those descendants of Jamestown colonists (who were overwhelmingly of English origin) went? The idea that the South was populated by Scots-Irish almost exclusively is strangely enduring, despite the lack of proof. I still cite the predominance of English surnames in the traditional South as evidence that there is a great deal of English blood there. But for some reason, it's politically unpopular to consider oneself Anglo-Saxon or British or English by descent. Why? Because somehow being of Anglo-Saxon blood is considered so bland, so ''white-bread'', to use the derogatory term which is so popular these days.
I think it would be a great thing if more of us knew exactly who our ancestors were, as far as possible.. I believe there would be a great deal of surprise on the part of those who discovered their ancestry; I think we would find a good deal more British heritage than popularly supposed -- and I also believe that many people who think their origins are much more recent would find they have some colonial stock in their family tree. Many people, having a couple of grandparents or great-grandparents who immigrated mistakenly think that ALL their ancestors arrived later, when in fact they have founding stock in their line. However, again, it's more 'hip' and cool to have ethnic ancestry than 'whitebread' old-stock blood.
And in that connection, it would be good if we reversed our priorities and began to value old-stock origins more than recent immigrant origins. Once upon a time, it was highly desirable to claim 'Mayflower ancestry', to the extent that there were spurious family trees made up by unscrupulous genealogists, creating 'Mayflower origins' for a lot of nouveau riche social climbers. Nowadays, of course, the desirable thing is to have ''ethnic'' roots or recent immigrants in the family -- so much more ''diverse'' and ''vibrant.''
We put too much value on newness and on the exotic, and too little on the traditional, the ancient. And in our aggressively demotic society, we denigrate 'high-class' origins as being undesirable. This is an inversion of what should be, and it shows how we've gone too far in our 'democratic' egalitarianism.
Some of my own family members are indifferent to their origins; the usual rationalization is ''that has nothing to do with me. I'm my own person, an individual.'' That's yet another symptom of our liberal, atomized society in which we all flatter ourselves that we 'created ourselves' and that we owe nothing to those who preceded us. There is a kind of perverse pride there, and an egocentricity which is all too characteristic of our age.
Knowing our familial origins is a way of giving ourselves a little perspective on who we are, and of seeing how we are links in a chain going back through the centuries. If we learn about our ancestors, it becomes evident that many of our tastes, habits, talents, and yes, weaknesses too, can be found in our ancestors, from whom we inherit many of our personality traits.
And we can say this on a larger scale of the peoples from whom we descend. We are all part of something larger than our immediate family; our co-ethnics are part of an extended family, the particular people or kindred of which they were part, and beyond that, of European or Western civilization. As part of that greater whole, we can stake our claim as heirs of a great civilization, and that status should give us a vested interest in honoring it, preserving it for posterity, and simply in enjoying it on its considerable merits.
For Christians, I think all this falls under the heading of the commandment to "Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee."
And if we are in danger of losing the lands which the Lord has given us, via our ancestors, is it not in great part because we no longer honor our fathers and mothers? We have in a sense orphaned and disinherited ourselves by our disconnection from our past.
Our fathers and mothers are not just the two people who directly gave us life, but all our fathers and mothers back in time.
Let's give them the honor to which they are entitled, by learning who they were, and by honoring their gifts to us.

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