Some subjects I avoid writing about, and some subjects I write about should be avoided. While I have a position on many subjects, there aren’t many that I am passionate enough about to be worthy of words. A person’s background isn’t one of those subjects. Every day I see people that are branded, scarred, and discarded by society for reasons that the person has no control over. A person has no control over the color of their skin, the family they were born to, or the country in which they were born. We didn’t ask for our height or how effective our gut flora or genetics are at sustaining or increasing our weight. We have no control over what our parents, grandparents, or great grandparents did with their lives. We mostly don’t get to control our education. Even when we are old enough to choose a college on our own, our educational history that was forced on us as a child will weigh heavily in our ability to actually be accepted into the college of our choice. And if we are accepted, the wealth of our family might also be a deciding factor on whether we can actually attend. We have no choice whether we suffer from depression, schizophrenia, ADHD, or autism. We also don’t have any choice whether we have cancer, incontinence, or irritable bowel syndrome.
Yet while none of these things is in our control, these are the labels that are often attached to us by others.
But not me. Not if I can help it.
I will not be responsible for my ancestors any more than I will hold anyone else’s ancestors actions against them. Any family tree that is shaken will have skeletons fall from its branches. Some day, depending on how the future turns out, I might be a skeleton in someone else’s family tree. And that’s okay. I hope my progeny don’t feel responsible for my mistakes any more than I feel responsible for the mistakes of my ancestors.
None of us had control over our ancestors’ lives. None of us have control over the future generations. At the same time, we have little to no control over many of the things that happen to us.
I struggle with depression every day. Before I found the correct medication, I spent over half of my time either suffering from its effects or trying to keep those effects from spilling over onto the people that I loved.
I wasn’t entirely successful.
But I didn’t ask for a brain that wasn’t balanced. You won’t find a letter I wrote to Santa Claus asking to be depressed. My birthday wishes never included having the people that I loved stop laughing because I might cry instead. I never wished upon a star that my mood disorders would gradually change the personalities of those that chose to support me.
I didn’t want these things. They were not under my control, but they happened anyway.
The same thing is true for the family that I was born into. I didn’t have any choice whether they were cattle thieves or law men. I didn’t have any choice which country they migrated from, or when. I didn’t have any choice whether they came from wealth or poverty. I didn’t have any choice over the color of their skin or the genetics that they passed down to me.
There was nothing I could do about these things, and there was nothing anyone else could do about them either. I will not hold these things against anyone else, and I will not accept responsibility for those things if anyone tries to hold them against me.
This is something that I am passionate about: you are a person, not a continuation of your ancestors. You are a human, not a skin color. You are an individual, not a diagnosis from a medical book.
I will do my best to treat you like the person that you chose to be, and I ask for the same thing in return. We will make mistakes. We will fall short of our expectations of ourselves and others. We will stumble, fall, and get back up again. These things will happen because we are human. But life is difficult enough without adding responsibility for things out of our control. I will not carry that burden. I hope you won’t either.