Thursday, March 26, 2020
Multiply, not Divide
As genealogists, we pursue the multiplying of generations, so we get that idea. We see value in multiplying. We've also likely spent a lifetime rehashing that maxim, "divide and conquer," and yet, "divide" has never had the positive spin enjoyed by the concept, "multiply."
"Divide and conquer" has had a long and very political history, being a phrase attributed to various military leaders, from Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, to Julius Caesar, and even more recently, to Napoleon. Lest you think it a remnant of a bygone era, one need only to click over to your preferred channel of social media and take a quick glance around. Unless your online social media consumption is "sheltered in place" in a specific group with a limited topic of discussion (like those many genealogy groups), it doesn't take long to soak in the vinegar of division.
Yet, at a time like this, that is one of the last things we need to absorb into our already news-numbed spirits. It doesn't take long to move from reading (or listening) to negativity to partaking of it, ourselves, and then, spreading the mental infection. As much as we need to find alternate ways to surround ourselves with people—if not people we love, at least people who love the same things we do—we must step carefully through our options. Dividing words help no mind thrive.
If you are like me, in these past few weeks, you've found yourself migrating to social media to keep in "touch" while we need to maintain our physical distance from those whom we work with, socialize with, or connect with in the course of our everyday business. And yet, the way through this alternate, digital path seems strewn with mental hazards—complaints and disinformation add to the disheartening realities of the facts we already face. Why add to the disparaging part?
We can make a choice to use our voice to make a difference. For those who are hungering for encouragement and connection, we can be the one to sound that positive note, even if it is only to post our own photos of the first signs of spring. For those who do better, in the face of crisis, by taking action, we can share our ideas for projects of interest, or resources we've found to be helpful. We can find the ones who resonate with uplifting vibrations and sing that tune.
Ever notice how those efforts seem more likely to multiply than to divide? There are just some sounds which draw people together, some colors which attract. We all know instinctively which ones they are; they multiply, not divide.
Even though, at first, some of the stories from our own family history may seem negative—especially for those whose ancestors faced daunting challenges—they do, in the end, present us with that uplifting encouragement. In the face of troubles, this is how our ancestors persevered.
We gain courage from those illustrations. And now, we may be going through some challenges, ourselves. We can remind ourselves of what we've learned about how our ancestors survived. Heeding their lesson provides us with a gift—a gift that multiplies through our use. They've passed it along to us. We may as well pass it along to others. And someday, they'll find a need to carry the story forward yet another generation. With words. That multiply. Not divide.