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Don’t chop down the family tree

In history, knowing your family roots was crucial and most of the time was the only way to achieve success. Prominent ancestors equaled a prominent you.

Several revolutions and social movements later, knowing your family tree is far less important for personal success and it is far less popular. I argue, however, that we have lost great benefits by abandoning our family’s history. Knowing who came before us and whose blood flows in our veins can motivate us to be better people and hold us to a higher standard. I campaign for the resurrection of family research.

A study from Emory University has shown that children who know more about their families are more secure, have higher self-esteem and can better deal with stress. They are usually more interested in history and feel like they can map out their own course in life.

In my family tree, I have ancestors who endured grave hardships, stood up for what they believed in and had strong moral philosophies. One ancestor was imprisoned for not compromising on his political views and nearly starved to death. While in prison he befriended a cat who brought him dead rats and birds to eat so that he survived. This helps me to want to stand for what I believe in, no matter how hard it gets.

One very poor ancestor endangered his life to rescue a stranger, who would later become a king. This led to his family receiving prominence and wealth. This inspires me to help others, even when they can offer me nothing in return. Many ancestors made difficult voyages across land and sea to afford a better life for their families. This encourages me to take risks and never give up.

Knowing these stories gives me strength, purpose and a desire to be as amazing as they were. Beyond this, it gives me a feeling of responsibility to contribute to my family tree. I want to make my descendants proud and inspired by my story, which makes it much easier to make better life choices.

Take a look at yourself. Notice you are alive. Notice you are doing something amazing with your life, whether it be college or something else. Now, based on these simple facts, you can surmise that you do indeed come from survivors and exceptional people.

Where do you come from? Who do you come from? What kind of ancestor do you want to be to your posterity? Go explore and see what heroes are in your family tree.

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