There’s something about one’s heritage that runs deep. Be it genetic memory, collective unconscious, morphic fields, or some other forthcoming mechanism, I believe we encounter intangibles like values, interests and talents with innate responsivity that tends to override our conscious efforts.
When I was a child my family joked about our heritage, blended as it is, saying we were mutts or Heinz 57. Mostly, though, my ancestors were Scots, Irish and Cherokee. The more I learn about these roots, the more I see just how deeply I’m made of their ‘stuff.’
From the Cherokee Preservation Foundation’s website, below are cultural values recorded by members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee
- Spirituality, which creates a bond among Cherokee people in good times and bad, and is a source of hope.
- Group harmony in community and kin relationships, and freely sharing and giving time, talent and treasures.
- Strong individual character, with integrity, honesty, perseverance, courage, respect, trust, honor and humility.
- Strong connection with the land and commitment to stewardship of the homelands of the Cherokee.
- Honoring the past by knowing one’s ancestors, identifying with and belonging to the tribe, and living and preserving Cherokee culture.
- Educating the children by providing values-oriented education and recreation, and by being strong role models for them.
- Possessing a sense of humor, which can lighten pressure in serious situations and help people make good decisions.
As far as I know, I am only 1/8th Cherokee–yet these are my values. I have not officially joined the tribe (I hear my ancestry records were lost in the Oklahoma bombing), but I am learning more and will be incorporating some of this treasured awareness into the book I’m writing.
Irish interactions are marked by openness and easy flow, acceptance of affection, humor, literacy and verbal acuity. When a social error occurs the Irish tend to meet it with humor or sarcasm rather than harsh criticism.
Again, an apt description of yours truly. So much so, I’ve never quite understood people who are not this way. Its as though somewhere in my psyche I think this is the only way humans should be!
Scots also value wit and intelligence. The use of proverbs to convey deeply held values travelled across the pond intact in my family: “a word is enough to the wise,” “better bend, than break,” and “there is none without a fault,” to name a few.
Though many of the traditional Scottish proverbs have fallen out of my vocabulary in daily use, the values remain. Heed a word of direction from one who has been there, collaborate, cooperate, adapt, flex, recognize your own flaws and be realistic in your expectations of yourself and others.
Now, lest I begin to sound too full of myself, let me say that I have plenty of flaws, as do my kin. These negative traits tend to pass through generations and are likewise, in my view and experience, difficult to avoid by sheer will. These shall be reserved for another post, or two, or three!
Our roots go deep. Who we are is more than a product of our genetics and environment. When I speak or write from my heart, intangibles such as values, interests and talents convey what we might call soul or spirit. This life force is the essence of who we are. This is my conviction, though science may not yet be able to prove it or describe its mechanisms. I believe we do well to learn our ancestral heritage, to learn from its flaws and to celebrate and actively pass on its strengths. I believe we do well to share from our hearts when our hearts find a safe place. I believe we do well when we create places of safety for one another.
©Joan T Warren
. . . and I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. -Ephesians 3:17b-20, NIV