Have you researched your family tree? Did you discover any surprises? Is there someone from your past who you most take after?
I find the study of genealogy to be a fascinating undertaking – to learn about my roots, the people whose DNA runs through my cells today and the way the past can influence my present characteristics and inclinations.
This month’s joy habit theme is about Being Honourable and for this week’s post, I am honouring my ancestors.
I am fortunate that back in the late 70’s, my father Jack and his brother Cliff, decided to do a deep dive into our history and were able to go back as far as the late 1700’s. The result of their research was a binder they had professionally printed with pictures and biographies for each branch of the family. The objective was to have each successive generation add their story to the binder so that there would be an ongoing living history of the family for future generations. Easier said than done I’m afraid with the original duo, my dad and his brother, now deceased and with the next generation of relatives spread out all over the world.
Here’s a copy of the cover page of the Stewart binder showing our crest and what it means. Very proud to have this. Thanks Dad and Uncle Cliff!
But sometimes looking back can uncover truths about ancestors that were kept secret and difficult to understand today. Although I haven’t uncovered any big skeletons in my family closet, if you have some in your lineage, I think it’s important to remember that the “sins of the father”, as they say, do not have to be repeated by the next generation. The chain can be broken.
With acknowledgement and understanding, I believe it’s important to still honour the human being that enabled you to be here without condoning their actions. You are not them and there is no need for you to carry their shame. However, it is crucial for you to learn from their “sins” so that you can pass along renewed honour to the next generation.
With all the recent public uncovering (literally) of the truth about our Canadian history as it pertains to First Nations peoples and the residential school system, I for one know that as we begin to dig deeper, we will surely find some of our ancestors who bear responsibility for this national disgrace. They either didn’t know any better or were too afraid to speak up or sadly were in fact the willing or unwilling perpetrators of the abuse.
Only once we are brave enough to look at our collective history with open eyes will we be able to open our hearts to heal this great sadness so that we can make real social justice change.
Let us pledge to do better for every living being. Let that be our badge of honour for the history books. And when that happens, it will indeed be a time of joyful living for all.
Love from your Joy Mama,
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Image courtesy of Pixabay.