"Inherited ideas are a curious thing, and interesting to observe and examine."
Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
The world revolves around inherited ideas.
We hate these people, because that's the way it's always been, with us. We hold these political viewpoints, because that's the way that mommy and daddy thought, and daddy with kill me if we thought otherwise. We've always done things this way, just because.
I think there are plenty of contradictions to this rule, of course, so it's not a hard and fast one. "My father's a diehard conservative," a friend of mine said the other day. "And he really gets into Glen Beck. When he starts going off on that crap, I just smile and tune him out. I wouldn't dare tell him the truth about how I really feel about things."
You can spend a lifetime trying to escape from borrowed truths. And of course, the thing is, in many cases, there's really no need to escape. Who you are is always going to be a function of where you came from coupled with what you've experienced in life, coupled with how you dealt with those experiences and what you learned from it. The past and how you were brought up is an important part, but it's only a fraction of the entire whole.
What Twain was getting at, of course, is that a lot of people do and believe things without actually examining why they think and act and feel the way they do, which often only perpetuates ignorance. Ignorance passed down through the ages is even worse than Original Ignorance, because at least there's a reason behind that Original Ignorance.
Then again, there are things passed down from prior generations that we'd be smart to retain. Depression-era grandparents learned the value of saving and of making smart financial decisions, because they truly knew what it was like to have lost everything. As time went by, we forgot the lessons this generation learned the hard way, and started to become more and more reckless. These past few years, we learned that lesson, again.
Many times, I do or say things, that I realize--after the fact--were total products of my childhood, of what I saw around me. I balance my checkbook on Sundays because my father did the same thing every week while I was growing up. I long to go to the Cape each summer because that's where we would go when I was a kid. I probably became a Democrat because my family was true blue all the way. With a grandmother who never voted Republican and deep working class roots, not to mention a family of teachers, how could it be any other way? It predisposed me to see the world a certain way. What I've seen since I left the nest has only served to reinforce this ideology, however. But why is that?
I suppose there's safety in inherited ideas. These are the ways of my people, the things you must learn to be one of us.
Why am I? I am what you made of me. Just a little.