Just Me

Just Me
Look,I'm just sayin'

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Heritage soup

 I have noticed an increased interest in heritage. This is a prevalent theme today. I began to notice when folks started with all this Afro-American, Hispanic-American etc, etc. All claiming a pride in their heritage even though most have never been to their " homeland " or have any real knowledge of that homelands customs and practices. It strikes me as a bit curious. I come from German blood. Can't say I know much about the Germans. Yes, Hitler and that whole scenario comes to the forefront and that is unfortunate. The Nazi era spans twelve years of that country's history. I am also from Swedish blood. The swedes are known for what ? Meatballs and skiing ? Well they are from the Nordic folks and the Vikings were pretty bad dudes. I'm not related to any Vikings though, my great Uncle Albert wrote a paper about that. He says, no, we are not part of that. So there is the English side of the family as well. They were explorers and moved to the new world. I have English ancestors as far back as there was a new world ! Nobody famous though, just your everyday pioneers and such. Had a few whalers and men that worked the sea. I have done neither and so don't claim that as my heritage. The big question is, just what is your heritage ?
 From Wikipedia : Cultural heritage is the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes of a group or society that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations. Cultural heritage includes tangible culture (such as buildings, monuments, landscapes, books, works of art, and artifacts), intangible culture (such as folklore, traditions, language, and knowledge), and natural heritage (including culturally significant landscapes, and biodiversity).
 I'd say that describes it fairly well. It says these things are inherited. Can you inherit something you have only read about ? I suppose you can, but the question of how genuine that legacy would be comes into question. The way to avoid that is to embrace the intangible. I can relate tales, learn to speak a dialect and embrace certain traditions. All of that will fool those that are not a part of that heritage. I submit you may even fool yourself. I believe our heritage is just what we inherited from our parents and grandparents. What customs they taught us and the knowledge they passed on. That is heritage to me. I have several round the world whalers in my family tree, but I can't lay claim to being a whaler. I only know what I have read about that occupation. I did not inherit it. So why this fascination with heritage ? Why is that so important in society today ? My thinking is it is simply to gain an advantage, whether real or perceived. My grandparents were oppressed so that entitles me to certain benefits or compensations. That can be applied to a number of ethnic groups. The government acknowledges that " entitlement " with special programs. One need only prove heritage to qualify. An interesting notion don't you think ? If we go back in history far enough we can find instances of oppression for everyone !
 Now I believe in the American heritage. That is the cultural heritage I identify with. Another topic that requires clarification  is " identifying " yourself. That is getting to be a confusing thing. But I won't go into that at the moment. Cultural heritage is gained from past generations and maintained in the present. It is then passed to future generations. The American culture is relatively new in the world. You could offer arguments as to exactly when that culture was established. I will say it began with the forming of America beginning in Jamestown in 1607. about four hundred and nine years ago. Many have arrived on our shores since, some by choice, others not. Some adopted the American culture and others have not. I do believe a lot of that action depends upon the advantage or disadvantage of doing so. That is, after all, human nature. We are adaptable like that.
 I do not believe we get to choose our heritage. All this talk of " discovering " our heritage is just mirrors and smoke. Now I'm not saying one shouldn't take pride in their ancestors and where they may have originated, quite the contrary, but I am saying you can't claim that heritage as your own. Heritage must be inherited on a personal level is my belief. That does leave me in an uncomfortable place. What heritage do I claim ? I'm an American. I'm a Caucasian American. I'm a Caucasian, Protestant American. I'm a Caucasian, Protestant, Registered Republican American. I'm a Caucasian, Protestant, Registered Republican, lower middle class, Veteran American. But that isn't enough is it ? Except for my Veteran status which does entitle me to certain benefits, although I did earn those benefits, there is little there that works to my advantage. Of course the largest detriment is that I am a Caucasian. I'm not complaining, just pointing out a fact.
 Now that being said I will say this. I could buy a horse and saddle and that won't make me a cowboy. I can learn a language but that doesn't make me a native speaker. My great great great grandfather was one of those whalers, I can buy a harpoon but it won't make me a whaler ! I have no legitimate claim to that. And that is what I think we are experiencing here in America today. An identity crisis. We need to establish just what the American heritage is. The United States is the melting pot of the world. We have all heard that and was taught that as a truism. That is what America stood for. Now there are many that have decided they do not wish to " melt. " Well that just ain't gonna work. It is no different that making a soup, all the ingredients must blend together. If they do not, the soup is awful and gets discarded. Is that what we are witnessing ? I certainly hope that is not the case.