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Nially_Bob's avatar

Do you consider remembering and 'honouring' ones ancestory and the culture associated with such to be a necessary trait in the pursuit of happiness and stablility?

Asked by Nially_Bob (3841points) June 15th, 2009

To rephrase, do you believe that a person is required to grant a reasonable degree of attention to their ancestory and the culture from which they and their ancestors derive to be happy and stable or do you believe such things can be ignored while still possessing the aforementioned desired traits?

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26 Answers

asmonet's avatar

To each their own.
Although, I do wonder about people who have the option of knowing something about where they came from but do nothing about it. Don’t you wonder?

Blondesjon's avatar

I was adopted as an infant.

You’ll have to tell me.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

It’s better to focus on the present but also not to forget the lessons of the past.

I don’t think those two situations you mentioned are in any way co-dependent.

juwhite1's avatar

No – All the people still waving confederate flags seem pretty angry to me. Anger and happiness don’t seem to be very compatible to me. I’m from the south, too, but I don’t get living in the past and even pining for the past. And, I really hope this next comment isn’t offensive to anyone, but I sometimes see the same thing with various Native American tribes. Cherokee’s basically told the government to piss off and picked themselves up by their bootstraps and made their own new lives after being tortured worse than any other people in our history, but there are a few other tribes that have sat back and depended on the U.S. government to continually pay them for the sins of the past (which were admittedly horrible) and they have ended up impoverished because of the total focus on their past and how they should be recompensed, rather than adopting a forward looking approach and seeing their current position and moving forward from there. Obviously, that isn’t true of each individual in any group… it is a HUGE generalization, and I hope it is read with caution. At any rate, when this occurs, people certainly don’t seem to be happier for it. On the other hand, educating their youth about their native languages, customs, beliefs, etc., has been very healthy and helped to instill a sense of pride. I think the answer depends on how a person or a group of people go about celebrating their history… both appreciating the great things their societies have brought to the world, and taking accountability for improving the things their society has faltered on. That is true of every single group of people, in my mind. Since I’m a mutt (Scottish, Cherokee, English, and Ukrainian), I’d have a very difficult time trying to pick and choose, but I do enjoy learning about the history of my ancestors. With that said, I’d rather learn from the history of all people rather than just the groups I came from.

Darwin's avatar

@Blondesjon – We just spent the weekend meeting a small part of my son’s birth father’s family, only about 30 or so people. It is really interesting to suddenly be in the company of people who all seem to have my son’s ears, hands, and noses. This is the first time we have seen his birth father since my son was six-weeks old, and the first we have ever seen the other 29 people.

It was fun but quite tiring. Doing genealogy on the internet is much less exhausting.

@Nially_Bob – Our family has had a tendency over the centuries to keep track of where we have come from and of some of the more… interesting members of the family, but I know people who pay absolutely no attention to their ancestry. In either case, I know many folks who are doing just fine.

I think it depends on each individual as well as what they do with the information if they choose to seek it out.

Blondesjon's avatar

@Darwin. . .I still remember the help and the link you gave me pertaining to opening birth records in Illinois. It was a great help.

I bet your son was about 15 different kinds of excited.

Nially_Bob's avatar

@asmonet I myself am fascinated by the culture which I have been raised amongst; my ancestory too, however I find myself also equally fascinated by the cultures and ancestories of others. I cannot comprehend why I would wish to specifically ‘honour’ and learn from the cultures and ancestory related to me when there are so many. You mention that you wonder about those who do not act on their ability to learn of their ‘past’ but what assistance could it realistically give? If my great great grandfather were an Irish farmer named Jeremiah how would that assist me? I’m aware that I have just contradicted myself by firstly stating that I find most ancestories interesting but I am trying to play ‘devils advocate’ and considering the matter from a purely logic standpoint.

@Blondesjon Well, are you a happy and stable individual? Forgive me if that sounds rude, I ask due to curiosity.

@The_Compassionate_Heretic Must the lessons of the past be specifically related to the person in question and additionally will paying these lessons no attention cause said person to be unhappy and unstable?
By the two situations are you referring to my rephrasing of the question in the details because if so I apologise as I felt that wasn’t quite right myself.

@juwhite1 Everything in moderation eh? I concur with much of what you say but, to go mildly off-topic momentarily, do you believe people should take accountability for what a member of the society they live in does? I have never been fond of the concept of accountability by proxy.

@Darwin I would agree. Do you feel that a knowledge of your family history has assisted you in any manner while growing up?

juwhite1's avatar

I’m definitely not fond of accountability by proxy… personal accountability… that’s another story!

Blondesjon's avatar

@Nially_Bob . . I am happy.

Stable? <shrug>.

Nially_Bob's avatar

@Blondesjon Well then such things are likely not necessary for happiness and stability no? Incidentally if a person shrugs when asked if they’re stable my experience dictates that they probably are.

@juwhite1 We’re in agreement my friend

Dog's avatar

My current state of happy stability has nothing to do with my ancestry.
My path I have forged on my own and the choices that have dictated my journey are free and clear of any influence by past heritage, culture or ethnicity.
Perhaps it is blasphemy to some but I have no desire to return to the mother country even though I do wish to travel to many places around the globe.

It is just the way I am and was raised- look forward not back.

whatthefluther's avatar

I find it interesting to get a view of the past, but don’t see it as necessary in pursuit of happiness or stability. My Dad’s parents were born on the island of Rhodes in the Mediterranean (historically predominately part of Greece, but at times Italy and Turkey). Their ancestors emigrated there from Spain during the Spanish Inquisition (approximately 1492), so there are hundreds of years of family history there. I went to Rhodes on my final travel (which I can no longer comfortably do) out of curiosity. Its a beautiful island and I learned much about the cuisine (which I love), history and culture, though I did not attempt to locate any potential family (its my understanding that nearly all emigrated to the USA with a small group to Turkey). I did, however, see the family name (in the proper spanish spelling) on many markers in the cemeteries.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

No, I don’t. It is important to remember where you came from, and what made you who you are, but who your ancestors were in the 13th century is just a little irrelevant to daily life. Some of my extended family members are obsessed with family history, but I find it rather sad that to have an identity we must claim some ancient link to royalty or to famous people.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I don’t believe it’s necessary, but I do think it’s extremely interesting.

YARNLADY's avatar

No, while I am aware of my family history, and I did a lot of research for fun, I do not see it as a necessary part of culture.

What I do see as necessary is to keep the stories of all previous cultures free of prejudice and distortion, as lessons of history, anthropology, and culture for educational purposes. I used to belong to a group that was dedicated to re creating Middle Age Europe, for fun and education.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I absolutely think it can be necessary. Although I also believe that most people wouldn’t know how helpful it is until they experience it. It’s like a void people don’t know exists. Thus many people say it isn’t necessary. But once you understand it and it is part of your life it would be like ripping a piece off you if someone took it away. So it may not be necessary entirely however it is quite fulfilling and for some I do believe it is absolutely necessary whether they realize it or not. I refer more to the and the culture associated with it than the ancestry itself although that is fulfilling as well.

I also believe it is necessary for someone to understand their own culture before being part of or judging someone else’s culture

Jack_Haas's avatar

Knowing your own culture is a necessary first step in understanding the world you live in. Knowing other cultures is another necessary step because it puts your own culture in perspective. If the positives outweigh the negatives it might bring you happiness and stability but also a sense of alienation if your culture and your family values have mostly been replaced by antagonistic ones.

onesecondregrets's avatar

Absofuckinglutely; your history is what you are before you potentially get jaded by things that occur in life. If not your ancestry/culture- definitely your family.

Darwin's avatar

@Blondesjon – He was more nervous than anything else. However, he was in seventh heaven during the weekend because he was the center of attention and didn’t have to do anything he didn’t want to do. They are very nice people and fortunately he said please and thank you and didn’t utter a single swear word. He loved his birth father’s truck, though.

Darwin's avatar

@Nially_Bob – I have enjoyed the family stories but even with ancestry in common I have found that many of my relatives are people I don’t particularly want to be with. It is useful to know that my family is a blend of many different cultures and to have explored those cultures. That is probably the way that it helped me most in that it has made me open to the cultures of others.

However, other members of my family with the same ancestry as I have been known to discriminate against people from certain other cultures, including those who come from one of our ancestral ones. I believe that what you do with the knowledge of your ancestry (and what bits you deliberately overlook) is still more important than just knowing it or even honoring it. You need to honor the right of others to honor their own cultures, ancestral or modern.

Darwin's avatar

@YARNLADY – Why am I not surprised that you were one of those people, too?

Long live the King!

YARNLADY's avatar

@Darwin Your first link just goes to the top of this page, but I join you in your salute to the king. I was once Seneschal of Isles in CAID

Darwin's avatar

@YARNLADY Sorry – we didn’t have these computer thingies back then so I have some difficulties.

asmonet's avatar

@Nially_Bob: Personally, I find comments that play up or admit to the role of Devil’s Advocate extraordinarily tiresome.

It changes, assists and helps nothing save perhaps the occasional bit of piece of mind or closure to a question that stemmed from pure curiosity.

I need not honor my past, I am satisfied with knowing generally where I came from and what series of events led to my creation. I’d love to know more, but I’m happy with what I know.

Even if I did get more detailed than the knowledge I have now, it ain’t gonna be a fluffy pretty story. Family lore goes back to Austria and Germany, Nazis, a Pope who liked to kill people he had sex with in the Vatican, the Borgias, and Charlemagne.

Sure, it sounds exciting and I’m interested from a historical standpoint – who woulda thunk all of them woulda bumped uglies at some point to make me? So, I’m curious. How did all of those bits and pieces come together? Is all of it true? Or as some great-great-great-great-grand uncle having a bout of low self-esteem and made some stuff up to make himself seem important?

I don’t care if you don’t ‘honor’ your traditions and customs – whatever that means. I do care that you know who those things came from and why you exist. I always wonder, if you don’t care where you came from, how can you possibly care about your future? You don’t remember anyone, why should anyone remember you?

Nially_Bob's avatar

@asmonet In future I shall make certain to not admit it my friend. I play Devil’s advocate in an attempt to further pursue my curiosity as I despise (and am incredibly bored by) the thought that I would focus solely on one perspective in any given debate regardless of whether or not I agree with it. To state that its use can help nothing with the exception of closure makes a great many assumptions about a persons aim in a discussion. I feel the utilisation of such a technique can assist people to learn far more than if a debate were to simply involve two conflicting opinions. I sincerely apologise if this offends or aggrivates you (and shall take precautions to make sure such doesn’t occur in the future) but I fear this is simply how I approach matters within a discussion.
Moving along, I can understand and sympathise with the situation you describe regarding your ancestory. My family line, from what I know of it, has involved many murders and gruesome battles that took place in Ireland. Few with a reasonable justification.
A person can ‘honour’ their traditions and customs in many ways which vary from culture to culture. Ceremonies, events, special days (i.e. veterans day) etc.
One concept that does leave me wondering and you have made mention of is when people describe “understanding where you came from” as it occurs to me that I came from my parents efforts, my sibling relationships, even my friends who developed my personality but in no way from an ancestor I do not know nor have ever met. How is remembering this person “remembering where I came from”? I can learn from them just as I can any other person from the past, but do they play any special significance in my life? Surely learning from all humans of the past is “remembering where I came from” or perhaps this is what many mean by the statement.
In answer to your concluding statement, people should remember you because you did something of greater significance than most others. Otherwise it’s likely you will become another remnant of history.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Nially_Bob I have a comment on one of your questions. I’ve been told that I speak with an Oklahoma-type accent, yet I’ve never been there. My Great Grandmother lived there; my Grandfather, and my Mother were born there, but they moved to Colorado when Mom was only 12 years old. There is some residual influence that comes down through the language and culture of your ancestors, even when you haven’t noticed it.

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