The same sentence repeats in my head—almost daily—when I think about the weeks, months, and years ahead: “This is going to absolutely suck.”
Perhaps I need a different mantra. 😉
Although it might suck, there will also be glimmers of hope. There will be egregious actions, but brave people will also stand up for justice. As a country, we are going to start understanding who we really are.
A historian recently wrote (I’ll post the link here when I re-locate it) that it’s crucial, right now, to write about who you are, where you come from, and what you believe in.
About 150 years ago, an Irish woman with six children crossed the Atlantic in steerage (the cheapest section on a steam ship). When she arrived in New York harbor, she registered with seven children. That woman gave birth alone on her way to America. That woman was my ancestor. That’s who I come from.
About 200 hundred years ago, a man left his home in a war-torn, hostile place that would eventually become Germany. He started a new life in a bustling, coal-mining town in Pennsylvania. The only trace I have of this man’s story is a ritual knife used for kosher chicken slaughter. I know nothing more about him, but that man is my ancestor.
My ancestors in Ireland believed so strongly in education, they taught school under the protection of field hedgerows, out of prying sight of the colonizers. (The rebels!) My ancestors survived persistent hunger when the potato crops failed, relying on their faith, on community, and on smarts to see the next generation succeed.
Like a lot of people, I anticipate the coming years with dread. The urge to run far, far away gets strong. But I have to remember where I came from. I come from the stock of people who survived war, oppression, violence, and starvation. Those times sucked, too, but my ancestors gave me a huge gift.
Last week, I wrote that we are stronger than our fear. This is true. It’s true because every living person in this country is descended from someone who faced their fear of the unknown and thrived. Our only exception, Native Americans, have faced 200+ years of colonization.
Your courageous ancestors, whose blood is flowing in your veins, can help guide you through difficult times.
Where do you come from?
Think about your family’s story. What did your ancestors experience that can help you in the years ahead? I challenge you to write about it on your own blog (if you have one, please link to it!) or in the comments here.