Monday, May 27, 2013

Sins of the Parents

Did you know that your ancestors were slaves? Did you know that everyone in your ancestor’s village was wiped out except for the babies who were stolen by neighboring villagers? Did you know your ancestors were raped? Chopped into little pieces? Burned alive? Froze to death? Got lost? Were married off to someone they hated?

You know that your ancestors were executioners? Tribal leaders? Shamans? Merchants wealthy beyond dreams?

Innkeepers? Tin smiths? Acrobats? Farmers? Sailors? Night watchmen? Midwives? Professors of philosophy? Hookers and card sharks?

It’s lucky you made it. The most amazing thing is that, every single one of your ancestors, going back in an unbroken line, had children who, they themselves, had at least one living child. Isn’t that amazing? I mean, what are the odds? You mean, none of them was childless? Thousands of generations, every one having children?

Doesn’t seem likely, does it?

What’s worse, your ancestors were enslaved, robbed, raped, pillaged, and dismembered by ancestors of the person who lives next door to you. Right now. I’m not kidding.

Or, looking at it the other way around, your ancestors enslaved, robbed, pillaged, and dismembered your neighbor’s ancestors. It works either way.

Are the sins of the parents visited upon the children? Forever? How many generations have to pass before you’re not to blame for what your ancestors did? My immediate ancestors came here around the turn of the 20th century; am I responsible for slavery and mistreatment of the Indians just because I share a skin color with some of the people who perpetrated those atrocities? And, if not those atrocities, surely some other unnamed atrocity?

Must I do penance for all of them?

So, who’s to blame? Who should pay reparations to whom? How about if we all pass around a ten-dollar bill and call it square?

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