The old Irish marriage proposal, “How would you like to be buried with my people,” reflects pride in one’s family and its significance in life. Family gifts to each of us an identity, the security of belonging and the most ancient of insurance policies in needy times. Be proud that you are a branch on your family tree that is larger than a 330-foot California Sequoia! An anonymous poet used an old southern expression to tell of the enormous size of your family.
“You-all means a race or section,
family, party, tribe or clan;
You-all means the whole connection
of the individual man.”
The “whole connection” includes kissing cousins and Dutch uncles who aren’t blood relatives but being dear friends become family. Let’s say for an important event you desired to host all your living relatives at a grand dinner—how many would have to be invited and could you locate all of them? Being a nation of immigrants, few of us can name family members beyond Second or Third Cousins or maybe a couple First or Second Cousins once removed. Our original immigrants and their children moved several times, and often to distant places, so each of us surely has unknown living family relatives. But how many?
At least one million! According to geneticist scholars we each have that many family members as close as a Tenth Cousin! Image a million relatives! Weekly news reports some horrible disaster, train wreck or massive fire in our country. To put flesh on that catastrophe glaring across the full color image of it on television, see this line: “A member of your family is among the dead or injured!” When a panhandler approaches, look into his eyes and think, “Are you my Third Cousin once removed?”
Globally our hereditary realities are even more staggering as geneticists also say no person on this earth is any further removed from you than your Fiftieth Cousin!
Consider the double-edged sword impact of such seeming unimportant genetic facts. First, if you were lovingly respectful, patient and unconditionally accepting of everyone you-all encountered, how dramatically changed would be your world. Second, if you were lovingly respected and unconditionally accepted by all those who came into contact with you, how deeply changed you-all would be!