Of horizontal and vertical historical horizons By Paul V. Montesin

A Point of View © 1996
Of horizontal and vertical historical horizons
By Paul V. Montesino, PhD, MBA, ICCP.

I am convinced that some folks find it hard to accept the past because it makes it difficult to accept the present, never mind guess the future. In a three dimensional world of width, height and depth, we are happy if we live with one dimension only.

In a recently published article about racial relations, I wrote: “A well-documented genealogical Microcondrial DNA project published a few decades ago found and reported that seventy-seven thousand years or so ago, lived in what we know as East Africa, a man who was black and had offspring. Those black descendants grew up, “left home”, and dispersed through adjacent geographic areas, creating a biological diaspora.”

And I added: “Of one thing we are all in biological agreement: everybody alive today, you, I, Europeans, Asians, Americans of the north, center, and south, indigenous groups, Arabs, in other words, the whole of humanity, are evolved descendants of that same East African black man I was talking about a few sentences ago. If you don’t think we are equals, ask the pandemic virus if it differentiates by color or nationality between the victims it attacks.”

Many had a problem visualizing a past contrary to our widely held and treasured beliefs.  They reacted to those words the way you do when you smell stale fish and respecting my writing credentials they simply moved to a different subject.  I could prove if the sun was out, all I have to do is point my finger, but I didn’t have a cable station video showing what happened all those years, but they had neither. Speaking of a communications problem!

Just to set the right background for this article, the seventy-seven thousand years I was talking about comprise approximately three thousand eighty generations of humans. That is a lot of grandfathers and grandchildren if you ask me. A generation is traditionally calculated as an average period of twenty-five years of life. Some of us, although not all of us, are able to know one or two generations of ancestors, parents or grandparents, but not before. Some as well, although not all of us, are able to know one or two generations of children or grandchildren, but not afterwards. Our generations don’t last that long.

As a result, our generational perception allows us an ample horizontal view of siblings and in-laws, even friends and strangers, but a rather meek view of our vertical view to look at three thousand blood relationships is out of the question. Who knows for certainty who were the great-grandparents of our great-grandparents, what they did, what they thought? What they cared? What they didn’t? Wishful thinking won’t do.

I am sure that by now you are wondering not only where I am coming from but whom I am coming from, and more importantly, why. I will do my best to summarize a seventy thousand year experience into only a few minutes. In doing so, I hope you end up not only visualizing those years, but also feeling very proud of those who opened the biological path that you and others walk today.

Right now, because we are talking about twenty five-year generations, it is safe to assume that there are four related generations alive in the world, grandparent, parent, child and grandchild. That leaves three thousand seventy six generations left behind, gone. Think of humanity as a tall tree with a trunk comprised of thousands of rings, each ring a different generation and connected to each other. One thing is clear; all rings are needed in order for the human circles to be able to exist.

That is an important condition, and one that presents a humans relation challenge. If each generation ring depends on the previous below, every name known to humankind is involved. And by everyone I mean the poor, the insignificant, the significant, the powerful, the powerless, the famous and the infamous. I will let you complete the list by including the names of every figure we pray to in our temples. We have the illusion that those religious icons come from outside the rings, a heavenly intervention, but in reality they are typical of the social contexts of the generations that gave them existence. They didn’t create those contexts, they were shaped by them. That makes a big difference.

When we writers put together our knowledge of words to create an article we usually do it with an ulterior motive, one worthy of our human qualifications, so in this particular case, what is my goal? I’ll be brief. Look at the current ring of our tall human tree and try to understand how our current generations deal with each other. There are problems, plenty of them, and rather than dealing with them in a creative fashion, all we do is blame each other for their creation, their existence, their persistence and their lack of solution. In other words, we claim to have inherited sins committed by others unrelated to us either these days or during some time before, but pointing fingers won’t solve them.

It is evident that the human tree couldn’t stand firmly on the ground if some or many of the rings rot, but avoiding the responsibility or blaming it on someone else will not straighten the tree, and certainly will not allow the springing of new leaves that could provide shadow to protect us from a scorching sun. Get out of the comfort zone of your house, try to reach others in your generational ring and join hands with them to strengthen our lives, no matter how we look like, what we believe politically or religiously. The old rings of the tree are now useless and hopeless. The new ones are still unborn and full of hope. Don’t forget that we harvest what we sow and we are the planters.

One of the most transcendental questions of the human race has always been “Who am I?” one that is related to individual consciousness. But think about the real meaning of that question. Are we the only beings in this world thinking and asking that question? Does that mean that no one else in the universe, no one in this generational ring is asking that question? If we are the only ones, it means that our generational ring is the only one asking the question. When you look at the many conflicts beseeching humankind it is not hard to feel not only alone, but also despondent. We are in our own lonely hands.

And that is my point of view today.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply