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  • Writer's picturejrdreistadt

70 Generations


There is an Iroquois doctrine which states that people ought to take into consideration the potential impact that their actions could have on the next seven generations. When we drink water from a bottle, for example, there is an environmental cost of packaging and transporting that water — and too often those bottles end up strewn about the street or in the trash (I know, it looks just like the other round bin with the big recycling logo on the front. Right.). So many accumulated water bottles, over so many years, has a devastating impact on our earth.

When I was a little girl, about seven or eight years old, my aunt — who also happened to be by third cousin twice removed — gave me a book with the genealogical history of one side of my family. A few years later, aunts and cousins started trying to recruit me for the Daughters of the American Revolution. After years of procrastination and other priorities, I finally joined an ancestry service so that I could more fully explore my roots. With the assistance of this service and many other dedicated researchers, I was able to speculatively trace my ancestry back 118 generations — through Revolutionary War patriots, pilgrims, queens, and kings.

These discoveries, in a way, made me feel closer to much of humankind. It is amazing to think that so many people, probably including a lot of people with whom I interact everyday, share common ancestry. It is also interesting that I, who had to work in garment factories and, even worse, as a telemarketer — but thank goodness (for the customers much more so than for me) not as a stripper to work my way through college, could have such illustrious ancestors as Edward III and Philipa of Hainault. What a difference 23 generations makes. I wonder…if those kings and queens of yore had lived a bit more intentionally and sustainably, perhaps today all of their descendants — and all human beings as well as animals on our gracious planet— would be living in a beautiful, responsive, and plentiful world where everyone’s needs and purest desires could be easily met.

No, I don’t have a chip on my shoulder due to some ingrained sense of white privilege. I believe that all people should use what they have — material or otherwise — to make the world a better place, or rather to lovingly restore our planet so that its life and potential is replenished and renewed.

Therefore, I am now taking a broader view and thinking about what our world will be like for those who will be alive in another 70 generations — should our planet withstand the increasing pressures to its precious resources — and how I can contribute toward co-creating a more resilient environment, inclusive socio-economic structure, and impassioned culture for those future earthlings. Every little thought and action counts.

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