IIGIVE THEM WINGS
|Website Link Index|
Orson Pratt Brown Family
Give Them Wings
Why are we not content to allow our ancestors stories to lie dusty in some attic or garage? Why is it that we speak in stories at work, with family, at get togethers, or over the fence with our neighbors? Why are stories part of all cultures since the beginning of mankind? Stories are so important to us that the many stories we hear and tell are not enough to satisfy our need for more. We read stories, watch movie stories, and story dramas on television. Why is it that we are so actively seeking to hear and see more and more stories?
Of course stories entertain us, but I think a more satisfying explanation of the power stories hold for us is that they provide us with rehearsals for life. Stories furnish us with reassurances, with keys to self-knowledge, and with the guidance we need to become optimistic, successful adults and to live full and happy lives. Family stories are little road maps to help us avoid pitfalls, and to understand what we inherited genetically and via nurturing.
So I think it is not just idle curiosity that our children, grandchildren, cousins, and other relatives want to know more about their predecessors, each other, and themselves. It is so natural to turn to the stories of our own parents and grandparents and family in order to gain assurances and guidance. Family stories have a great power to lift up and raise the spirits of family members.
Preserving our family's past is every family member's duty, and is a legacy every person should receive, and in turn contribute their portion. We will gain insight into ourselves and our family as we view parts of our life in relation to other parts. We will begin to view each part as a whole, and will recognize patterns and choices that facilitated or restricted growth for us and family members. This may challenge the ways we had previously understood our life or our family. Rather than continue to insist that things are just the way they are, we may now appreciate the help we have received, or see past difficulties, not as fate but as symptoms, of unresolved personal and family history.
Although most of us live no more than twenty years with our childhood families we remain bound in various ways to family culture for the rest of our lives. What we eat, the way we use money, how we view leisure time, what religion we practice, or a myriad of other qualities may still be influenced by how our family taught us to deal with these matters. Our children are products of our extended family and its history. The families we formed with our mates may be dominated with tensions and struggles that began within our childhood families and the generations of family before us.
On the other hand, family stories of valor, courage, patriotism, struggle and success, all serve to add to our personal feeling of self-worth and to our children's personal sense of value and hope. Knowledge that a person with our genetic make-up was part of the making of a historic event, new discovery, or other positive life challenge can help family members feel lifted and up to the callings in their own lives. Pride in our heritage supports us in our daily endeavors.
Reading, writing, sharing, and discussing family stories, about what happened to our ancestors and why, is one way of breaking repeating cycles of difficulty. The task is not an easy one, but to understand our nuclear and extended family cultures is often a way to be empowered to be more detached from any negative hold past family difficulties may have on us and our children. This detachment gives us wings to free ourselves from the chains of undesireable behavior.
Sometimes people will say, "But shouldn't unpleasant memories just be forgotten? Why stir up bad memories?" The answer is clear, "our families may forget our past but the past will not forget our families." The sins of our ancestors reveal moral and spiritual traits that run from generation to generation. Who would think it admirable for parents to conceal from their children the knowledge that genetic kidney, lung or sight problems run in the family. Clearly that is an unconscionable and foolish stance. Knowledge of such diseases may be necessary for children to seek the care they need to compensate for and overcome inherited physical shortcomings.
On the moral and spiritual plane the same is also true. When we hide the shortcomings of our ancestors from our children we may be making it impossible for them to compensate for or overcome a hereditary moral or spiritual weakness. By omission we condemn ourselves and our children to repeat the generational cycles, resulting in restriction and loss. Airing the past is a healing action that allows the spirit to see the flaw and take wing from it.
Writing and sharing our own history, and reading the life stories of our ancestors with our children, are wonderful ways to bring meaning and order, and to build family unity, as we deal with fears and failings. Moral strength can be learned by the knowledge that we have choices.
PAF - Archer files = Captain James Brown + (7) Phebe Abbott > Orson Pratt Brown > Us.
"Turning Memories Into Memoirs", by Denis Ledoux. 1997.
Additions, photos, bold, [bracketed information], etc. added by Lucy Brown Archer.
Copyright 2001 www.OrsonPrattBrown.org