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Fireside Topic: How does your ancestry affect your view of yourself?

immigrants-ellis

I must have been about 10 years old, visiting my dad’s side of the family. My cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents were all gathered in the living room as the news came on. The TV was always on in the house and we weren’t paying any particular attention to it when the reporter said something about an elderly woman being attacked, which must have caught someone’s attention. They showed the perpetrator in handcuffs, and maybe an uncle or grandparent said, “ That looks like cousin so and so” followed by a “ Yep, that’s him alright. If anyone asks, you aren’t related to that Yarbrough.” I didn’t even know this guy, but I caught onto the idea that guilt and shame could traverse space and time and somehow travel through the bloodline…if we let it.

It’s not as easy to disassociate yourself with ancestors as it is with wayward cousins, especially if that ancestry changes the color of your skin or shape of your nose or eyes. I am thinking primarily of people with strong ties to tradition or culture: Jewish, Black, Latino, Italian, etc. For me, my ancestry is so muddled with various cultures I wouldn’t know where to place my allegiance and I kind of like it that way. But we can still view ourselves through the lives and mistakes of our fathers, mothers, and grandparents apart from any significant cultural ties.

The goal of this discussion is to figure out if we have a correct view of our self, or if we have a distorted and limiting view. Even pride in belonging to a particular culture can cause us to think more highly of ourselves than our character and life merits.

So the question is this: How does your ancestry affect your view of yourself? And this doesn’t have to be in a negative light. There’s a good chance your ancestors did some pretty amazing things. I later found that the Yarbrough name came from a war lord: “ Eustacius de Yerburgh was an Anglo Saxon war lord of the 11th century who was a descendant from an ancient house of Denmark.” I don’t exactly know what all that means but it sounds bad ass! I’ll take it. The same site says there was a “ Swanson Yarbrough” who settled in Texas in 1832. I like the sound of that.

Here are some questions that may help root this one out:

  • Do you knowingly associate yourself with a particular group of people?
  • Is that association uplifting and freeing, or is it exclusive?
  • Is your self-esteem affected positively, negatively, or neutral when you think about the life of your ancestors?
  • If you were to disassociate yourself from a culture or group, who are you?

- Fireside Topic articles are interesting topics to get men talking. Find a few friends and throw a question out there and see what develops. Read more here. -

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