A Heathen's Path, About Me, ancestors, Asatru, Christianity, Goddesses, Gods, Heathen, Heathenism, Norse, Pagan, Paganism, Rants, Religion, Rights, The Vices and Virtues Project, Vices and Virtues Project, vikings
And here we come to the last of the Nine Noble Virtues: Ancestry.
This is probably the most important, misunderstood, and controversial of all the Nine. Ironically, this is largely because of the very ones this virtue is about. Heathens, sadly enough, get labeled racist a lot, and whenever you have Pagans who want to be all progressive and prove how “good” they are socially, they will often rant about the “far right,” “new right,” or “the racists,” and inevitably you’ll end up seeing stuff linked with Heathenism. It fits so perfectly too, what with us having all those “Nazi” symbols and using “similar terms” or “having similar outlooks,” etc, etc, etc…
It seems, however, that they easily forget that those symbols existed long before the Nazis, as did many of the ideas and “buzz words” the Nazis used. Some of which were not bad. That the Nazi’s took these symbols, and these words, and wrapped them around their cause to make it seem noble and a thing of heritage, rather than new and horrible ideas that little, to nothing, to do with the old ways.
I’m sure there’s some irony about the same being done in our present political climate.
One of the things that struck me about Ancestry, though, is that so many do not think anything about it. Indeed, many seem to regard it as something to be forgotten with all due haste, and then some. But the fact remains that here in the West, despite the fact that so many these days seem to regard the old attitudes as failed and wrong and so forth, are only able to think such things because of what their ancestors did. I saw a brit who said that individualism had failed and that it didn’t matter what his ancestors believed. But if it hadn’t been for his English ancestors, it is doubtful any of us would have the civil rights needed to believe as we do. And if they hadn’t faught for them, well…we really wouldn’t have them. The Magna Carta was the first document of Civil and Human Rights and Liberties, at least in the long string that led us here to our modern ideas of what are civil and human rights. Were it not for those English ancestors of that man…it is doubtful he would be living the life he is.
And that’s just it. That’s the big deal about Ancestry. It’s where you come from, and it’s your ancestors, and it’s what they did to give you the life you have now. If my own ancestors had not fought, warred, struggled, lived, and died, I would not be here. I would not have this computer, I would not have electricity, I would not have a language to speak, a culture to rebuild, a life to live, or a future to behold.
Of course, it is that “world building” that has caused us these problems. Our ancestors were not us, did not live like us, did not think like us. They had different moralities, based on the fact that they lived in different worlds than we do now. But modern people like to judge those in the past based on modern values. And since most of those in charge were of European ancestry (disregarding the fact that most Europeans who came here faced hard times due to their ethnicity) a lot of people, even those who are the descendants of those who were “in power” like to hold themselves up as holy and those in the past as evil. And so they say that those who admire and are grateful to those that came before are evil in the same way.
Of course, most of these people haven’t had to live in a time where you grew your own food rather than buy it in a box, in a store with air conditioning, going to and from in a machine that powers itself. They’ve never had to farm, much less farm land with nothing more than animals and wood and steel and sweat. They’ve never had to face the realities that to survive meant you needed more people to power the farm, the factory, or civilization. They never had to face a world without government aid, or watching brothers and sisters starving or dying from disease. They never had to live in a world where physical might was more important than the ability to sit for eight hours in front of a glowy box.
You know those annoying commercials on TV that try to guilt you into giving just twenty-five cents a day to feed starving kids in Africa? America was like that at times. The reason it stopped being that way is because people made hard choices that we now consider evil.
I think before we cast moral judgements, we should first look honestly at what we would do in their shoes. Would we stand on the moral high ground of being anti-slavery if it meant that those we loved would die from starvation, or disease, knowing that we could save them by making someone else do it for them? If we lived in a world without mechanical strength, where it was only strength of arms that we survived on, would we be willing to stand on sexual equality, or would both genders suddenly find that women went back to running the house, while men risked life and limb to hunt and farm and died trying to keep their families alive?
It is easy to judge, it is not so easy to live.
This is why I honor my ancestors, knowing full well there were misdeeds and wrongs done. Because they faced a world different than what I have, and they did what they could to survive and make a better world for their descendants. The fact that the current batch running our world seems only interested in forgetting history, making a good life for themselves, and leaving future generations (mine included) with the bill while bashing those that came before, well….It makes me feel something not nice. The fact that they’ve trained many of my fellows with much the same attitude they have (only when the last government subsidy is gone and the last of your freedoms vanishes will you realize that you’ve been made a slave) sometimes steals hope. They are the first generation in history who not only didn’t grow the population, but screwed it after their deaths.
Our ancestors lived, fought, and died for us. They gave us our culture, our religion, our philosophies, and our freedoms. Our Heathen ancestors fought to keep the Old Ways, and even after the conversion to Christianity, their children kept alive the old ideas of rights and freedoms, so alien to Christianity, till at last they flooded through it, breaking their way through. Now it is our turn, to rise up, bring back and preserve the old ways and old stories, which have been suppressed and vilified by the last generation. Let us not lose our past for the sake of politics. Let us honor our Ancestors.
Let us hold to this virtue.