Now that I have crossed over into my 60s, I think often on how short life really is. It is too short, really, to learn life’s lessons. By the time we learn them, we are already old. At least that is true for me.

So what advantage do humans have? The advantage of memory and learning that can be passed down from one generation to the other. In this day of misinformation, where opinion seems to be more prized than fact, it is perhaps more important that we make the effort to pass on to members of our families, the stories of their heritage. Where they came from. What struggles were confronted and survived. And often, the memorabilia of these stories— photos, film, videotape —serve to refresh and embellish those familial memories.

When you think about it, almost everyone in the world has no memory of anything occurring before 1940. And over half of the world’s population is less than thirty years old. In my opinion, they need more than what they get from the media and the schools to be able to form sound judgments and make decisions on matters of social and personal importance.

A knowledge and appreciate of one’s family history is one important way to encourage the youth to question more, think deeper and be curious about what we might call the human experience. To know and learn from past mistakes. To think beyond the present moment and gain the personal confidence and sense of self worth to contribute to the greater good.

Many people have little knowledge of their roots; where they came from, what their grandparents and great grandparents did for work and for fun. They do not know the shoulders that they stand on, the sacrifices that were made for them to be where they are today, which even in the worst of times in this country is still pretty darn good.

So you, if you are still reading this, have the opportunity and the obligation to do what you can, not for yourself, and not really even for your children— but for their children and their grandchildren— to give them as much information and knowledge of their past and their family, with the hope and faith that it will be of use to them in the future, and help pave a better way for all of us. And yes, Familyography can help in this most important endeavor.

Daniel Smith