Today I breathed a sigh of relief.
Because we have been out of town all week, I had to take the final exam for both of my classes this morning... suffice it to say that last night wasn't happy. But, I think I did pretty well. I am quite confident, actually. I finished the first in 25 minutes and the second in an hour and 15. Could I have done better? Of course. Do I really care? Not really.
One of the essay questions I had to answer is why knowing a nation's history is important to its citizens. I am absolutely fascinated with this subject. My brother posed the same question to me earlier this week in another context. Why should we be proud of our Scotch-Irish heritage? he asked.
I am very proud to be Scotch-Irish- and I intend to find out more about them... just think- it may have been my ancestors that were monks who preserved the written word during the Dark Ages! It may have been them who sat under St. Patrick (my mom's maiden name is actually McCool) and spread Christianity on the island. The Lennoxes (Jon's mom's maiden name) were descendants of the Stuart Kings- the castle they owned (this picture was taken by Jon's brother Ben) is still there today- near Loch Lomond in Scotland. I find this fascinating!
I read a book last year called The Surprising Power of Family Meals: How eating together makes us stronger, smarter, healthier, and happier. In it, the author related a conversation she had had with a colleague who was a college professor. He had done a study on his students and found that those who knew thier family's heritage- recent and ancient- seemed to have more success in school and beyond.
The book asserted, and I agree, that knowing what "your people" have been through- whether it is the trials of the ancient celts, the journey from the isles to America, or the stories of my grandparents in the Great Depression, this connection to the past empowers people to have the strength to succeed.
Keep in mind this is not always a cognitive decision. When faced with a hard time, I don't think, "Wait a minute! I have ancestors who survived the Potato Famine- I can get through this!" No. I don't.
I do think, though, that the subconscious knowledge of what your family- or nation- has been through can positively affect an individual.
Jon and I have begun compiling information we know so that, someday, we can pass it on to our kids- the book suggests that the dinner table is a great means for that.
What do you think? Do you feel a connection to your past? Is passing family history on to your children important to you?
And an even more pressing question: Do you want to buy a used Western Civilization book?