“People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors.” Oliver Wendell Holmes, The Revolution in France, 1790
My prior draft on Ancestral Arrogance alluded to the 4th to the 14th century Buddhist portrayals left for us. Those brightly hued murals gives us a glimpse of our universal families in the past. Were the Buddhists grabbing bragging rights from their ancestors with their depictions or were they meant for us? A little of both maybe.
Here are some thoughts about another ancestral discovery that may help us connect with those who are not much different than us in our ways of living. A Science Times article by Kenneth Chang writes about the latest Stonehenge archeological excavations that takes us back to 4300 B.C. David Jacques, an archeologist at the University of Buckingham, along with his students, unearthed evidence near Stonehenge that features a family unit. Chang cites Jacques imaginations. “There’s noise here. There’s people here doing stuff. Just like us. Same kids and worries.” Secrets Set in Stone, Chang (NY Times 11/10/15)
The excavating teams found hunks of flint rock, bits of bone, and orange pods that may have been used as a pigment. Did they outdo the Buddhists’ colorful wall paintings?
OK, with what do we need to honor our ancestors and descendants when it comes to making our mark in our time? I’m thinking about etching my old sermons on flint stones and maybe adding a few jokes that will be helpful for those a few centuries beyond us. Wait a minute, I could find me a gigantic stone and carve the content of my one and only book on it. It would take no longer than the 50 years it took to get it published. I will have to ask my kids to help out. I just did. I called them about it and they merely snickered and advised me to try it first on toilet paper by the author only. “And, Dad, did you think about your book before us for your etchings?” Whoops, it’s gotta’ be a guy thing, or plain stupidity.
It will be enough for many of our families these days to manage to leave an imprint that signifies us doing stuff as our ancestors’ experienced. There were ‘people doing stuff. Just like us. Same kids and worries.’ What kind of stuff and worries do parents and grandchildren endure in our days. Well, their first dates put their dads and granddads on pins and needles and next comes the driving bit. And what about i-phones that drag our grand kiddies into a cosmic zone? How do we capture images of those worries on wall murals?
Maybe there is a much larger indelible mark we need to strive to make to be in the league of our ancestors’ impact.
Gangs may be celebrating their territory, neighborhoods, lovers, families and gang members by way of their artistic graffiti. It’s a way to give thanks to them. Am I giving them too much credit? I don’t think so. While serving a church in a tough neighborhood in Los Angeles I learned from several gang members that they often expressed intimate feelings through their paintings.
I was newly married then and Liv was from a small town in Norway so she didn’t know much about U.S. urban gangs. A dozen gang members met just beyond our chain-linked fence a few yards from our parsonage. In our first week she finally asked me to tell them to meet somewhere else. I looked out at them and thought they were pretty scary but I said, “Ah, they’re alright.” Obviously I wanted to impress my bride with a little machismo. For a few weeks, when I was walking to and from the church nearby, they just stared at me. But we finally began to talk and joke together and we had a pretty good time over the two years we were there.
Given it’s the Thanksgiving season, what can we do with graffiti on walls or rocks to give thanks to those whom we have met in our regional territories? It will have to be a pretty large partition, a good-sized repository to accommodate such an attempt.
Hey, what about a mammoth granite boulder in the shape of a turkey? We could start our etchings with gratitude to our families, friends and colleagues. What about strangers we have glanced at and they’ve nodded back and those with whom we met or bonded throughout our lives? Whoa, what about our enemies? Hopefully we may run out of stone.
The lands where I began to encounter those outsiders would be Los Angeles, Seattle, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Pacific Palisades, Claremont, Phoenix, San Diego, Tucson, and a good portion of Norway and several other countries. What about your localities?
Who knows, maybe our Thanksgiving Turkey artistic art piece will eventually be unearthed in the year 4300 A.D.