Growing up in a small Texas town where everyone knew each other and extended family was seldom close by, I forgot my heritage as the child of an immigrant. My father came to the United States with his family in the 1960s because my grandfather found a job as an executive for Getty Oil. My traceable paternal ancestry goes all the way back to Canada in the early 1800s and originated sometime in the seventeenth century in Scotland.
We never really had a link to our family in Canada; we knew they were there, but they were seldom spoken of. In my teens on a summer trip, I accidentally discovered distant relatives on my father’s side that were living in Arizona. My great-grandfather had another family in Florida, and they migrated west as the years went on. Now we are mostly located in the Gulf states, with branches in Illinois, Michigan and Massachusetts. I have never met my third, fourth and fifth cousins, but one day I would like to. There would be so much to talk about.
I’ve done some amateur sleuthing throughout the years on the internet in an attempt to trace my lineage, both maternal and paternal. I also took a DNA test through an online service called 23&Me, which provided some strange surprises. I am not, as I thought, half Canadian and half French. Rather, I am 70% Irish, Scottish, and English and 15% French and German. The rest is a curious mixture of Scandinavian, Portuguese, Spanish and African.
My mother’s family can be traced back to the early Middle Ages in France, and they fought with King William I of Normandy in the decisive Battle of Hastings. I would like to visit the area in Northern France where it is believed they came from. It is surreal to think that a millennia ago, my family was fighting a war to secure an entire empire. We are still doing that today, in the grand scheme of things. What we have failed to realize, with all of our technological and intellectual development, is that we are no longer savage warring tribes fighting over arable land or potable water sources.
There should be, and really is, enough for all of us. We have become so haughty and myopic in our way of thinking that our global environment now hangs in the balance. Wars are still raging and entire countries are being destroyed. We must remember that we are all descended from nomads, the hunters and gatherers who lived long ago and sowed the seeds of human civilization. Under our skin, we all bleed the same blood. The only reason we look different is because of differences in the climate and the genes we have inherited from those ancient forebears. These arbitrary variables that we place so much value on do not matter as much as the air we breathe or the water we drink. We must forget our differences and unite as one race, under one creed, which is love.
If our children and our children’s children are to have a chance at a life worth living, things must change. We must come out of the perpetual delirium of fighting for dominance and embrace our empathy and compassion, the things that make us the most human. We must learn to place the highest value on things that are the most fragile. The human race must learn to stand together, for the good of all mankind, and especially for the future of our species.