Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Freedom as a Catalyst

In my old files is a photograph of ancestors named Grover. I know who most of them are, too. The one in the back row a bit to the right of center with a beard was a U.S. Congressman in 1865. The folks in the picture are his brothers and sisters and a couple wives. They were all born about the turn of the century—the nineteenth century, that is.

What is remarkable about these people cannot be told from the photo. It is that they were all dirt-poor as kids. Their father was a farmer who lost a leg and who had to find another means of support for his twelve kids. He became a shoemaker in a small town in western New York State and supported everyone that way. It was through diligence and effort that he did a good job. What you see in the picture are fairly successful people in middle age, however grim they might appear. The seated man is a successful doctor while the congressman is a lawyer, politician, banker, farmer and land owner.

Dirt-poor no longer, theirs is a typical American story of personal growth in a nation that was growing.

The Grovers were religious. But people in other nations are religious. What seems to have made a difference with the Grovers and countless others is that they were optimistic, religious and free. Freedom was the catalyst, but the peculiar mixture of optimism and religion with the freedom made their lives and even ours possible. It is what separates us from the rest of the world, certainly from Europe.

There is an American culture. It has been in development for over two centuries and it is thrusting us forward toward unrivaled wealth and power. We do not want to give it up to satisfy the people who have their eyes fixed on European styles of civilization. Most of our ancestors came here to get away from European ways. They knew something some of us seem to have forgotten.

I am republishing a 1903 Grover genealogy. Included in the old details of the family will be corrections and additions and a few family stories. The Internet has allowed much more information to be discovered since 1903. My mother was one of the last to be recorded in the old book, so I can add a few more generations. It will not be a big seller, but for those of us in the Grover clan, it will be a very important book, almost as important as the family Bible.

1 comment:

Matti said...

I would like to know just what that is that WE have forgotten about European way of life. Perhaps back in those days it was so but things have changed in Europe. I have lived in Finland the past 16 years and I find it not much different than living in the USA in fact I find it much better for many reasons. One is I do not have to worry about having to have insurance if I am sick or in need of a doctor. I see where my tax money is spent. Education is strictly that, not to play sports. Higher education is free to all who apply and get accepted based on exam. People left Europe for several reasons. In the beginning because of their religion. So they went to America to be free from persecution and ended up presecuting themselves such as the Puritans. People left in droves due to famine in their homelands. In the case of many Finns many left for this reason but also many believed they would make enough money to return and buy their own farm or business. Some did, some did not. The American way of life and dream has changed. It is not the same as it was a century ago. In this day and age, particulary now it has become the laughing stock of the World because of people in power. Americans, as a whole, are narrow minded and one track minded as to the countries and cultures around them because they are isolated, so to speak. I am as free here as I was in the USA and it is so in other European Union countries. Religion is no longer a basis for persecution unless perhaps you are a Muslim or a Jew and yet you will find the same in the USA. Don't be so quick to judge that which is around you. As long as there is oil the US will remain a world power. Once that flow stops one will soon see just how much that American culture and way of life will cease to exist. The American way of life is a wasteful and harmful one to itself and the rest of the World and needs to re-think these ways.