Thursday, September 2, 2010
those (families) of the Fourth Generation (Helaman 13: 9-17)
Four Generations of Happiness
Sociologists have long studied the relationship between family tradition and family stability. Traditions can best be described as how a family does things, over and over again: dinner table, play, holidays, respect, diet, entertainment, etc.
Traditions can be compared to the strengthening of heart muscle. When we do a certain exercise over and over with a purpose, we build strength; when we let heart muscle sit, we get atrophy that eventually leads to disease and death. Just like the exercising of the heart muscle, family traditions can build strength of family unity, or they can lead to family atrophy. The direction and strength of a family depends on the strength and purpose of family traditions.
In recent years I have spent a great deal of time and energy doing genealogical research. Family history has given me a perspective on my traditions that I simply would not have otherwise gleaned. In one of my four (grandparents) lines, I have seen a distinct correlation between traditions and the happiness of my generation.
Paternal Grandfather: Me. My father. My grandfather. My grandfather's father - In this line of my past, the tradition of education has steered my family and me. So important was the idea of education that the legacy of where it all began has been told with great passion.
I. Generation One :
Like many families near the end of the 19th century, our family depended on agriculture to survive. My great grandfather had migrated with four of his brothers from Ontario, Canada to South Dakota, where in 1884 he homesteaded so that he could received his U.S. citizenship. After a time he returned to Michigan where he purchased a home in Chandler Township. Chandler Township was
important to him because it promised the best education for his children. My grandfather and his two surviving sisters walked 3 miles from the family farm to Pinnebog until graduating from 8th grade. High School graduation followed four
years later in the town of Bad Axe, some 20 miles away. In order for the children to attend, Grandfather rented a house in Bad Axe where my Great Grandmother stayed with them through the school year. On holidays she would bring the children back to Kinde by train (10 Mile) where their Dad would meet
them to drive another 7 1/2 miles by carriage. All three of my Great Grandparents children then went on to become the first citizens of the township to graduate from college.
II. Generation Two:
My Grandfather graduated with a degree in English in 1923 from the University of Michigan while his two sisters graduated with teaching degrees from a college in western Michigan.
My grandmother attended school through
the 8th grade and then stayed at home for two years helping her
family on the farm. Her grandparents and parents served on the school boards of their local county. So badly did she want a high school education that she worked for a family by the name of Percy McMullen. The McMullen's who welcomed her into their home for four years in exchange forhousekeeping chores, lived in Bad Axe. While there she served as editor of the High School newspaper, and met my grandfather who was working as her English Teacher.
Even though she was not able to attend college, she did not let this subvert her thirst for knowledge. She organized and ran a county women's society for higher education. This society would meet regularly to discuss various educational topics. She also was very politically rooted to her community.
III. Generation Three:
My grandfather's children (all 4) continued the tradition by graduation from Michigan State University, all with great sacrifice and cost. My father and Uncle got through with help from the GI Bill. My two aunts saved and sacrificed to help with the costs.
IV Generation Four:
My own education experience has not been without difficulty or sacrifice. After caring for the needs of my large family, I did distant learning and finally graduated at the age of 49 from Ellis University
(an on-line university).MyDr.Brother honored our long-standing family tradition regarding education by receiving his Doctorate this past spring. He is the first member of our family to receive the advanced Doctorate degree. His own example has set precedence and his son is on track to soon follow. I am certain that if you asked, the drive and determination of our four generational traditions played a big part in his personal motivational drive.
This family history gives good illustration to the importance of family tradition with regards to education. In my mother's family she and her sister were the first to graduate from college. This too came with great sacrifice.
In addition, it was in my mother's line that I saw a clear line of tradition in regards to the pain of divorce and the attitudes it brings. In doing my research, I was able to go back four generations to my g grandfather's father who died at the young age of 23, leaving his wife with 3 children under the age of four and one in utero. After his father's passing, my g grandfather was the oldest and only son and became used to being the man of the house. When his mother remarried some 10 years later, he was nearly 15. He did not take to his step-father (the new man of the house) and left off on his own to ride the rails and discover the world. He was the first in a long family to divorce and actually was married 3 times( to my knowledge.) From his generation down all of the families have divorced, including my own parents.
Why is this important?
Because I saw the clear correlation to attitude, security, and past traditions of belief, I chose to choose differently. When my own family faced difficulties, I purposely chose to find a way to hang in there. I recognized the difficulties that divorce leaves and the legacy of pain. I studied the problem, read the experts scientific statistics, and rather than give in to the pain, I found strength and faith in my Savior's atonement.
I learned to change my own families traditions and create stronger more secure attitudes.
A Mother's Faith
With my mother came her families introduction to Christianity. Her grandmother taught her of faith and was the first to take her to church. Later she continued this faith through the study of scripture and the practice of changing wrongs that errant family traditions can bring. She became the first in her family to forgo alcohol and set her children on a path of clear thinking. For my mother's family line, our faith in Jesus Christ has become a strong and lasting family tradition.
Civil War and Family
My husband's family has four generation patterns as well:
His g grandfather was one of ten brotherswho fought in the Civil War. Five of the brothers died.
Four were injured, and one deserted so that he could care for his large family after his wife passed.
He hid out in the Okefenokee Swamp until he was certain he was safe from being tried for desertion. The fourth generation in this family was my husband's father. He was the first to be rid of the fear and the negative feelings the association with the Civil War brought.
Prophets teach to warn us of traditions that destroy us. Wicked traditions weaken families. Strong traditions strengthen us and guide us into happiness.
What traditions do your families have that strengthen one another? that weaken one another? that weaken society? What changes has technology brought that have changed your family traditions?
Words and Phrases
vs 9 they shall be smitten - actually if a civilization lives in wicked tradition for a very long time, the Lord does not need to do anything, they will bring the sword, the famine and the pestilence upon themselves. A war of such proportions to regard is the Civil War. You could equate the slave trade to this: The south suffered sword, pestilence, and famine as a result.
vs 10 those of the fourth generation: think about this for a moment... why four? Why because we cannot link to anymore than that? Unless we live longer lives, it is the fourth generation that becomes the oldest living in our family. The example, the principles, and the morals that their lives represent sets the basis for their entire family to follow. If there are weak traditions, there will be weak families. And if there are strong traditions there are strong families, but it takes four generations for it to completely manifest itself.
vs 11 repent and return unto the Lord your God... God's way is the only way to correct wicked traditions. God's way is the only way to engage a strength beyond our own.
vs 12..woe unto this great city... people make up families, and families make up cities. When family traditions go awry, cities eventually go awry with them. The family is the building block of our civilization.
vs 13 if it were not for the righteous? what do the righteous do? they pick up after the ill mannered. They restore joy where hatred runs rampid. They give perspective. They do good. They bring hope when there is little. They serve as God's standard. When there is no standard, there is not hope.
vs 16 wo be unto all the cities ..because of the wickedness in them... wo. wo. wo. when I think of this word I think of riding my mare. When I wanted her to slow down I would say "Wo.. Girl.." or turn .. "wo.. Girl. "Wo is a word used to slow us down, to stop and think about what we are doing in our lives? What are the traditions (old and new) that might cause God to say to us "Wo... unto all the cities" all the families.. ?
vs 17 a curse shall come ... curses comes when people are not looking. Curses are like disease. When in my kitchen I fail to clean up my sink, my countertop, or my cutting board, a curse will come. It will be in the form of germs. If I do not watch and clean my counter-top my family could receive the curse of Strep, or something worse. Curses follow those who do not follow the rules of nature. Spiritual curses follow those who do not follow the rules of God and the Universe.