Working in the field of Genealogy has given me a definite perspective of life and, in the long view, a perspective against which I gauge my activities.
Do you ever wonder if what you do today matters? Many ads you see tell you that you only have one life to live and so they encourage you to do what you want to get the “most” out of life.
Well, without going into a big religious or philosophical debate, let’s just stick to what the words associated with Personal Pedigree mean and go from there.
PERSONAL: Concerning a particular person and his or her private business, interests, or activities.
PEDIGREE: A line of ancestors; a lineage. A list of ancestors; a family tree. A chart of an individual’s ancestors. This word comes from Middle English pedegru, from Anglo-French pé de grue, literally, crane’s foot; from the shape made by the lines of a genealogical chart.
GENEALOGY: An account of the descent of a person, family, or group from an ancestor. This word comes from Middle English genealogie, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin genealogia, from Greek, from genea race, family + -logia -logy; akin to Greek genos race.
ANCESTRY: A line of descent. This word is also Middle English: from Old French ancestre, from Latin antecessor, from antecedere, from ante ‘before’ + cedere ‘go’.
Okay, so if you strictly look at where you came from and where your line of descent is going, even if you ONLY cared for your own family, you would want to do the best you can do for yourself AND for who will be affected by your actions after you.
Let’s look at a broader scale and some numbers. It is a fact that John Alden and Priscilla Mullins, who sailed to America from England in 1620 on the Mayflower (and who were married in America in 1622) are my 10th great grandparents.
Do you know that you have 4,096 10th great grandparents? This means you have 2,048 10th great grandfathers and 2,048 10th great grandmothers. From the other perspective (and of course, depending how many children each subsequent generation has), a 10th great grandfather could have tens of thousands of great grandchildren. As a matter of record, one national society that keeps track of descendents of John Alden and their spouses, five years ago, had records of over 54,000 people!
Now, what do you think your actions of today mean when you look at the fact that there may be, down the line, 50,000 and more people who your present-day activities will affect?
What if John Alden never married Priscilla? What if he decided to not stand up for his personal rights and stayed in England? What if he decided to just look out for “number 1” and wasted his life and talents away while “having fun”?
That would mean that today there are over 54,000 people who could not proudly call themselves descendents of one of the most influential people who came to America. They could not look to their ancestor, pull themselves up by their boot-straps and muster up a bit more courage to carry on.
It DOES make a difference what you do today.
I would like to hear your stories on how your ancestors actions made a positive or negative impact on you today – and what you are doing or not doing as a result of that.
Email your stories to me at firstname.lastname@example.org - I may publish one or two of them on my website.
WORDS FOR THOUGHT
”If you want happiness for an hour? take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day? go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year? inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime? help someone else.”
“The lives and happiness of our children, as far ahead as the mind can reach, depend on us today. If we succeed, posterity looking back will record that this was indeed man’s finest hour.”
Carl A. Berendsen
“We begin from the recognition that all beings cherish happiness and do not want suffering. It then becomes both morally wrong and pragmatically unwise to pursue only one’s own happiness oblivious to the feelings and aspirations of all others who surround us as members of the same human family. The wiser course is to think of others when pursuing our own happiness.”