There are a few examples of a group of people who have succeeded in embracing and passing down they’re heritage. Almost every society that has developed over the past 4,000 years has made an attempt to preserve its history in some form or another. Today we record facts and events in astonishing detail, but how important is it to pass it down or embrace it and also what benefit does it have in our lives.
Lets take a look at the value behind embracing your heritage. In times past the Jewish scribes would religiously copy manuscripts letter for letter. The Egyptians constructed large architectural structures in hopes that they would endure. The Irish maintained schools of Bards that would memorize their history. The attempts of these people to preserve and pass down their history, knowledge, and culture to generations of people who had yet to be born was an attempt to preserve and tell an intentional message. It was an attempt to pass on the wisdom and experience of the generations that had gone before them. This sounds simple if your continent’s history hadn’t been erased.
This is history in general. But what of heritage? What of YOUR heritage? What is it and why is that important?
Heritage is the history, unique knowledge, values and traditions that have developed by a combination of genes and environment over time. Heritage, whether it be national, cultural, or family is an endowment of unique sets of historical knowledge; but foremost, heritage is your history. It is responsible for how we came to be, it is a very large part of who and what we are, and it can determine what we will become. As humans, we are free moral agents; because we can determine our future to great degrees, we may delude ourselves into thinking the past has no impact on us. But choices and past events have very profound and long-lasting impacts on any decision we can possibly make; therefore all decisions or choices made now are done so in the context of the past.
So heritage is a conglomeration of genes, decisions and environmental factors that have personally affected us, and continue to affect us, that we had no active part in. Since it is a part of you that you can not disassociate yourself from, since you can not make a decision outside of its context, it is imperative for you to know about, understand, and embrace your heritage.
Not everyone feels a connection with their cultural heritage, but many people do. What is it about cultural heritage that draws these people to it? Some may think traditions are archaic and no longer relevant, and that they are unnecessary during these modern times. Perhaps for some, they aren’t; but for others, exploring cultural heritage offers a robust variety of benefits.
Culture can give people a connection to certain social values, beliefs, religions and customs. It allows them to identify with others of similar mindsets and backgrounds. Cultural heritage can provide an automatic sense of unity and belonging within a group and allows us to better understand previous generations and the history of where we come from.
Value Your Heritage
The value of a heritage comes from its inheritors – from the Living!
Heritage is an inheritance better than money or property. Unlike money or other property, heritage cannot be stolen or taken from you as long as you are alive. It can only be lost or forgotten by a choice that you make. This would be the choice of neglect and disuse. What value is an instruction manual to a complex machine if it is left in packing material and thrown away – none! But when we read that manual, encapsulate that knowledge into our mind, and use it – then there is great value.
We have a world today that has destroyed much of its heritage through war or through neglect. Our mobile society and fast pace world, with the immense prosperity we enjoy, has caused us to forget much of our heritage. We have used our time in meaningless pursuits. We have relegated our family history books, and our nation’s history books, to the corners of our library. We have watered down, or forgotten altogether, our traditions. We have sequestered the older generation to retirement communities and nursing facilities, and as they grow old and die – so does our heritage. Because more often than not, that generation failed to pass it on, while the next fails to retrieve it from them.
Our Gift to Future Generations
If we value our heritage, we will then be able to pass it on to our children with a little bit of ourselves attached to it. What we do now, how we live our lives and the character we build, adds to the heritage we leave to our children. Some of us may not have money or property to give to our children when we die, but we can give a rich heritage to them. We can offer a heritage that will enhance their lives in every good way that we desire for them.
Wether or not you embrace your heritage is up to you, and wether or not you pass it down to your next generation is also up to you. We wanted to express the importance of embracing it , but now its up to you to embrace and pass on.