Family Medicine — We’re All In This Together
“When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.” — Jimi Hendrix
They say you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family. And that means forever, since the roots and shoots of your genetic lineage go backwards and forwards in time without end. Jamy and Peter Faust, authors of “Finding Peace Through Your Family Lineage” this issue, calculate that in 10 generations you are connected to 2,046 ancestors just counting grandparents! Not only do you share DNA and genetic traits with these people, but you spring from an ancestral storehouse of ideas, beliefs and experiences that will shape your lifetime, the world around you, and the born and unborn members of your family for eons to come.
Family matters. A unique genetic mechanism that precisely bonds people together to care for and invest in each other’s survival and success, humanity could not survive without the family structure. Who would take care of all the crying babies? Love takes time to mature, as it does first within small cooperative family units, then extending into tribes, which unite into peaceful villages living within dynamic nations flourishing in a gloriously harmonious world equitably providing for the needs of each and every individual and creature on the planet — humanity’s Garden of Eden genetic blueprint.
Deep down we all just want to belong, have enough and live in peace. Along the way we struggle with the ups and downs of learning how to make life just that simple. Family gives us the place to live and learn how to do that on a small scale so we can replicate that cooperation in ever-widening circles out in the world, ultimately finding that people are all one big family. My family is not only my genetic lineage, but my human family as well. With the hordes of ancestors we are each married to, isn’t it likely we are ALL related somewhere along the line?!
There can be no peace or no greatness until an individual, a family or a country embraces all its ancestry. Trying to hack away at one’s own limbs or members can only produce gruesome injury, which must heal sooner or later, or death. When I look at the horrifying immigration policies sweeping America — families torn apart or living in terror, generations shattered, human potential crushed, children needlessly and thoughtlessly traumatized for life — I can only mourn the suffering of those individuals today while looking ahead to the fruits these seeds of misery have sown for our tomorrow. We will reap what we sow.
Nothing is more apple-pie-American than family: having the freedom to safely enjoy, care for and provide for family is at the very heart of the American Dream. Yet African slave families and Native American families paid a heavy price in our history depicting the shadow side of that dream, that the all-American dream must be for all or it’s un-American. Today’s scapegoated immigrant families facing great peril here and abroad ask us to question how safe and sound is our dream if it includes the bullying of others?
Our escape into the world of screens has blunted the ugliness of family members being abused and harassed right in front of us again, just as we turned a dark eye with different blinders in our past. Where’s the light that others so greatly suffered and bled and died for to show us the way? It’s still there and up to each one of us to remember and speak out. We’ve become so used to being separated off by a screen we frequently don’t even respond to the real people around us. Family counselors increasingly blame technology for a dramatic drop in communication between family members. Kids (and adults) are feeling isolated and alone despite tens or hundreds of online “friends”; suicide, anxiety and depression rates are soaring.
In David Sax’s The Revenge of Analog he writes, “Empathy — the ability to feel what others feel — is crucial. It is essential to the dramatic cultural shift we need if life on Earth is to survive. We need to move from a culture of ‘every man for himself’ to ‘we’re all in this together.’”
Families, which come in all shapes and sizes — some blood relations and some not — provide the space for that shift to occur. It’s a conscious choice to put aside the screen (every man for himself) in favor of focusing on the people in the room (we’re all in this together.) It’s time to heal our universal family lineage. No one says we have to like all our family members, but we’re all we’ve got. We’re family.
Carol Bedrosian is the publisher of Spirit of Change Magazine.