Be a good ancestor

In my previous post I mentioned the concept of the “good ancestor” and I think it deserves a bit more explanation.

When I first saw the term I was thinking, as a genealogist, about all the things we wish our ancestors had done, for example:

  • saved all the documents – birth, marriage and death certificates, baptismal certificates, electricity bills…
  • taken lots of photographs of family members and saved them all and labelled each person in them with the date and place in a non-damaging way
  • written a diary or journal and kept them all
  • writtten down the stories their grandparents told them

But that’s not what it means. It’s a more general, community type of saving. It’s being wise with the resources we all have and making sure we use them in a sustainable way so that they are still around for our children’s children. It’s being mindful of how our descendants will talk about the previous generations in the future. Watch the videos on Good Ancestor Workshops for more information.

Looking around us now I would say that our descendants will have cause to curse us. Global warming, financial crises caused by greed, reliance on fossil fuels… There is a long list of things that are wrong with the world today that we blame our ancestors for, and our descendants will blame us for.

There are many ways to be a good ancestor. We can start at home by using less power. Turn off the lights. Switch off the elctrical appliances. Use less hot water. Drive less. Pump up the tyres. Recycle. Buy products with less packaging. Take fewer plane trips. Adjust the thermostat. Plant trees.

The recent Earth Hour shows that people are interested in changing the way we use our resources, although I think it will take something more to make us change our day-to-day habits. People who were careful to turn the lights off at the appropriate time on the Saturday night were leaving them on when they left the room the next evening, at least in my household. 

I don’t have the answers, I’m just posing the questions.


An Inconvenient Truth. Website.

Earth Hour. Website.

Tom Munnecke’s Eclectica. Website.

One comment on “Be a good ancestor

  1. lilypily 2 April 2009 6:08 am

    Two very thoughtful posts Carole. 🙂

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