This is a sketch of Anna Meronuik (spelling is Canadian). She was my Great-great grandmother. She was murdered, Oct. 7/1921. She was born in Horodenka, Ukraine in 1856. She was married – legally or not, is up for debate – to Onufrey Bathura (Batura is the Canadian spelling).
And none of it really matters in the grand scheme of things.
I used to research the family tree; my tree and the tree of my husband. One day, I was going through some old records, on-line, when it dawned on me – it doesn’t matter. I expanded on that thought line and realized that not only does it not matter; in a lot of cases, it is actually harmful.
The past is a lovely place to visit but it is not a place on which we should be concentrating. It doesn’t matter that my ancestors fled to Canada from Ukraine, Austria, Ireland, France, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. I’m Canadian. My kids are Canadian. My parents were Canadian.
There are now companies that, for a fee, will track your DNA. How self-absorbed have we become that this should even be a thing?
Yes, my paternal family came from the United Kingdom. So? My maternal came from Eastern Europe. So? It has no real bearing on life in Canada, in 2015. In fact, I’ve seen some disturbing trends in xenophobic circles, citing ancestry as some sort of ladder of genetic superiority. In Quebec; if you’re French and can trace your ancestry back a few hundred years – you are entitled to call yourself “pure laine”. Not all that dissimilar to a certain political/social party, in a certain country, back in the 30’s, who also felt that where an individual emerged from a vagina, made them a member of some fictitious master race.
There is an aboriginal reserve, just off Montreal Island, that is, currently, exiling members for marrying outside of the tribe. Protecting their culture is what is being said. Call it what you want – I call it racism.
We don’t have the luxury of “protecting” culture anymore. The world is too small and in the fight to remain viable as a species; we need to stop identifying by culture and start identifying by what we are – human beings. Culture, race, creed and religion are at the root, in fact, are the poisons eating away at our species tree of life.
When the oceans rise and begin to claim settled land; I don’t think the sea will care who your grandmother was… When the bomb goes off and decimates a hotel, a restaurant, a school – I can say, without hesitation, that the bomb doesn’t care who is blown to little pieces. On the other hand, the person who planted said bomb did care about race, creed, colour and/or religion.
Will race, creed, culture and/or religion feed the hungry? Nope. Will these shallow identifiers stop a flood? Nope. How about an earthquake? Sorry – nope, again. Will these silly identifiers kill, maim, rape and torture? Will they ostracize, exile and excommunicate? Yup. Every single time they are used as validation or justification. Can we stop a drought? Nope. Can we stop a flood? Nope. And how about that earthquake; can we stop that? Nope again.
Can we stop murder, exile, excommunication, rape, torture and maiming? Absolutely. All we need to do is to cast aside judgment and proclamations based on nothing more than genetic mutations caused by environment and locale. Use logic and comprehend that there is no magical being watching over us. We are the authors of our own success, our own failures. Where our ancestors originated doesn’t matter with a single, solitary damn. So your ancestors were Norse? You are not now, nor will ever be a Viking. Ah, your great-great-great grandmother was Irish. You are not and will never be a Celtic Warrior Queen.
What we do now as a species, not as cultural groups, will determine everything, including our survival.