Ancestors, I guess we’re stuck with them

My ancestors go back to Scotland’s King Robert Bruce so this long after the problems with England (from a Scot’s point of view) I can’t say anything much about the U.K. other than it would have been much better for all of us if Scotland, Ireland, and Wales had managed to stay independent, and without a doubt, those countries need to break away. My wife, who studied English history in school, is rather astonished that I hate Elizabeth I with an unnatural passion, but I feel she was complicit in a lot of bad things including kidnapping and murdering Mary, Queen of Scots.

I’m not the only ex-pat Scot who’s being influenced by long-ago events. My roommate in college went nuts when he learned he’d been assigned to share a space with a Campbell. He said that hundreds of years ago my clan attacked his clan, killing the innocent and raping all the women. “Would I apologize?” he asked. “No, I said, for we improved your clan immeasurably.” He changed rooms. Good riddance.

But, I digress. I guess my wee dram of Talisker whisky turned into a pint of Talisker. What can I say other than, “Duilich mu dheidhinn sin.”

The ancestors that impact my life on a daily basis are more recent. They were farm people, and that’s fine. Being farm people, they ate their evening meal (called dinner except on Sundays when it was called supper) at 5 p.m. Dinner continued to be served at 5 p.m. (or else) even after the farms were sold off and folks moved into town. This habit was passed down to my parents who ate at 5 p.m. even though doing that was falling out of fashion. My wife tells me that her mother (a farm person) and my mother (a farm person) were also “ruined by home ec because it taught them how to cook the kind of meal a farm family would eat along with where all the flatware and glasses and plates and saltshakers should be positioned on the table.

So now I’m hungry at 5 p.m. (You can imagine what kind of hell this caused when I spent a summer in Europe where nobody ate dinner until long after respectable American farm families had gone to bed.)

Since farm families knew better than to swear in public, I don’t swear in public, and still, I find myself pissed off (oops) when I read uncivil comments on Facebook and elsewhere with profanity that was only appropriate in the navy. My ancestors taught me that if you need to swear in public, you: (a) have a limited vocabulary, (b) are scum, and (c) should go to jail. I still believe that even though profanity is often required at home when conversing with the cats.

Early on, I was taught to respect my elders. Yet, those of us who came of age in the 1960s learned not to trust anyone over 30. Since I suspect that my elders, dead or alive, have had too much influence on my life, I tended to respect them less than I should have–unless they were of Scots descent. Even now, people over 30–including me–should be monitored to make sure that haven’t sobered up and/or fallen behind on their meds.

Why? Well, our ancestors (including our parents) have brainwashed us to do what we do. We have no choice. We want to do better, but we don’t know how. My hope is that you discover this influence in your life before it’s too late.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell wrote “Special Investigative Reporter” even though his ancestors said, “don’t do it.”