Today on the public radio program "Innovation Hub," a story was told of two women who discovered first through DNA testing and then later from documents that many years ago at a hospital in the Bronx, two baby boys were switched. One of the baby boys had been born to an Ashkenazi Jewish family and the other one to an Irish Roman Catholic family. One of these two women was the granddaughter of one of these boys and the other one the daughter of the other.
It was suggested on this radio program that this changed the identity of these two women.
Later, on the same program the story was told of a man who discovered that his paternal ancestors were not Sicilian-Italians but that his father was from Africa.
It was suggested that this changed his sense of identity.
There are some in America who cling to this form of prejudice with tenacity. And make no mistake, this is "racism."
Regardless of skin coloration, the idea that your ancestors define your identity is the root and foundation of the discord that permeates American society.
We are not our ancestors. I cannot take any credit for the good things that my ancestors may have done (if they did anything noteworthy of a secular nature, I am unaware of it) nor do I have any right to blame you for anything your ancestors may have done wrong.
If Benedict Arnold, John Wilkes Booth, or Henry McCarty (aka William Bonney) had any offspring, those descendants are not responsible for the deeds of their ancestors. Likewise if any admirable people of the past have offspring, those descendants also are not responsible for the good which their ancestors did.
We are each one defined by our own lives and until we get past this obsession with the things which occurred before we were born, we will never be able to heal the schisms and rifts in our country.