News of the Bush-Kerry kinship leads to more reflections about ancestry and the current passion for genealogical research:
Initially it seems remarkable that Bush and Kerry are related. But considering that every person near their age has something like 3,000 parental units going back to the late 16th century, and parental units from that era have an average of something like 2.6 million descendants, it's not really remarkable that Bush and Kerry are genealogically linked. Statistically, there really isn't much justification for any of us to brag about our ancestors. Obviously we can't take credit for THEM. If we're lucky, maybe they will take credit for US.
The fun part of genealogical research is the sense of CONNECTION it gives us to being part of a larger whole, of being part of everybody else. When it is a way of DISCONNECTING, BRAGGING, a game of ONEUPMANSHIP, associating with an EXCLUSIVE ELITE group, that was born to rule, govern, succeed, live grandly, in great wealth and under cloudless skies, the point of the whole exercise is defeated, and the wrong lessons are taught to our children. When we do this, we deny our common humanity; we deny a basic rule of life, that we are put here to struggle and to strive.
It's peculiar how we only claim our patriarchal ancestors in our surnames. I've always been told that my ancestry is primarily Scottish, as the name Buie is Scottish. But I'm actually only 25% Scottish, IF THAT, probably considerably less, unless my English (Purcell) paternal grandmother was the very first generation on any side of the family to dare marry outside "her own kind." Could it be she was one of those radicals who branched off and married a "different breed," a Scot? A remarkably short time ago, English and Scot looked askance at each other -- they were at each other's throats, and demonizing each other, in fact. By today's standards, their differences seem downright trivial.
Funny, I remember hearing that her family was landed gentry, "snooty," claiming to trace their lineage all the way back to Charlemagne in the 770's. They thought she was marrying DOWN, beneath her, when she took her chance on a Scot, a Buie. I also remember hearing that the family of my maternal grandmother, also of English ancestry, also landed gentry, thought SHE was really marrying DOWN, beneath her, when she took her chance on that Swissman.
It seems so quaint nowadays that people actually thought that way a hundred years ago or less. I suppose a hundred years from now many of OUR assumptions and ways of thinking will seem quaint, too.