Thursday, July 19, 2012

Griots & Ancestors

Two days ago my son Paul recommended in his blog post that today’s parents learn from Colonial Native Americans. He suggested that we verbally share our family histories. . That’s sage advice.

I grew up hearing stories about living and long departed family members. Some of the escapades are legendary.  A lot of this oral tradition occurred over Sunday dinner.  However, some verbal documentation came in the form of random conversations, inspired by anything from television shows to clothing.  As a result I’ve always known that I belong to something larger than my immediate family. I’ve been compared to relatives who left this earth decades before I was conceived and inspired by the strength of others. The dreams and accomplishments of previous generations is a part of each of us.

As a child I assumed that all families passed down inherited history. Unfortunately many don’t. That’s why people feel disconnected. It’s neither technology nor global communities. People don’t have a sense of belonging to something greater than the present. It’s wonderful to learn about heroes but true inspiration comes from those closer to you. Knowing that you’re made of the same stuff as your ancestors and can carry forth in their traditions is priceless.  No matter who and what you are you stand on sturdy shoulders. Your people may not have ruled countries but their labor built them. Your great uncle my never have become rich and famous but his humor sustained his family emotionally during struggles.  Each story has a message.

What happened fifty years ago is relevant today. The past can be kept within historical and cultural context and still teach lessons. The world may look different today but valor, strength, silliness, joy and love haven’t changed.  We all have stories. Please collect and share them. Understanding where you come from is as important as academic training. Every piece of information contributes toward a whole person who is equipped to leave a positive imprint on the world.

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