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Why Genealogy Is Everyone’s Solemn Duty - Tue, 1 Jun 2010

Genealogy is not only a wonderful hobby that anyone can do that gives you a personal knowledge of your roots, but it is also a social hobby that requires that you meet and talk to your relatives and others who may have information. And it is a fascinating ever-growing detective mystery that you’ll never solve.

But it’s even more than that. I truly believe genealogy is something every single person should — no, must do.

Strageloop.jpgMy belief of this has been solidified 100% by the tremendous book I have been reading. It is Douglas Hofstadter’s latest book (2007): “I am a Strange Loop".

Hofstadter is a Pulitzer Prize winner for his amazing 1979 “Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid” that tied together the Mind, Computers and Mathematics into a marvellous musical synergy.

But A Strange Loop goes further, defining what a “self”, a “soul”, a “consciousness” and an “I” really are. No matter what your religious beliefs, and whether you believe in an afterlife or not (Hofstadter doesn’t), the book makes one undeniable statement:

In the wake of a human being’s death, what survives is a set of afterglows, some brighter and some dimmer, in the collective brains of all those who were dearest to them. And when those people in turn pass on, the afterglow becomes extremely faint. And when that outer layer in time passes into oblivion, then the afterglow is feebler still, and after a while there is nothing left.”

Do you want memories of your parents to fade away into nothingness? Would your parents want their parents to be remembered? How about your ancestors and relatives who are on their way to being forgotten?

It is up to you as a human being to preserve your memories of your loved ones. It is through preservation of the stories, pictures and memories in some organized form that you can ensure that their essence is preserved.

And that’s what’s so important to me about genealogy. It’s more than just collecting dates and places. I want to collect stories and memories – the things that will help take those names and faces and give you an understanding of how they lived, how they thought, and who they really were.

And it is your solemn duty to your loved ones, that you do the same.

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