No Ancestors, No Descendants

A micro geneticist has recently said that the common idea that humans produce genes in order to produce more humans is a distortion of reality. He said that anyone familiar with the interactions of genes in humans would agree that it's much more the case of the genes producing humans in order to produce more genes. (The genes are sections of the giant molecules of desoxyribonucleic acid that reproduce themselves by assembling a replica of themselves from the material in their environments and then separating from it. These giant molecules also produce all the ribonucleic acid, proteins, and other molecules necessary to assemble the replicas of themselves, and they do produce all other living things, in our case, humans, so that the replicas of themselves are spread widely and have an opportunity to vary and form new combinations with each other. The gene line or the gene pool or the gene network is the channel of heredity, and we humans are just twigs off this main stem.)

When I read this at first, I was amused at the opportunity this gave us humans to be more modest about our role in the scheme of things but did not think of any more useful consequences of the information.

Then a number of other factors began to come together in my mind. Because we seem to issue from within our parents' bodies, it has been easy for us to believe that we are descended from them. Our parents, grandparents, and others have believed this too. Rules, expectations, obligations, and requirements have been laid upon us by relatives, religions, cultures, and societies in the name of this apparent reality. "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right!" "Honor thy father and thy mother that it may be well with thee and thou mayest live long on the earth."

Now, I began to think of us grandparents, parents, children, and grandchildren as adjacent twigs branching off the main genetic stem or network on which the genes are actually descending from each other. I remembered a number of clients with deep distress rooted in heavy, irrational assumptions or obligations that had been implanted and accepted by the clients only because of the taken-for-granted relationship of the clients to fathers and mothers and grandparents.

Next, I remembered the considerable number of RCers who have tackled "establishing a rational relationship with their parents" and succeeded; and how, in every such successful case, the RCer has informed me with delight and with the parents' concurrence that "we are no longer parents and children, but good friends."

I realized I have been saying for years that the most satisfying achievement of my life is that four very fine people who used to be my children are now my good friends.

I recalled listening to Polynesians from various parts of the Pacific over my lifetime, beginning with a longshoreman I worked with fifty years ago, each one of whom told me how marvelous it was in their cultures not to "belong" to their "natural parents" as we seemed to do in Western cultures, but to have every adult in the village available as a "parent." When ever they chose, they moved from one house to another, knowing that their "original" parents had no particular claim on them and that they would be welcomed just for being themselves in every household into which they moved.

Over at least the last ten years, in certain situations with certain clients, I have been using a kind of fantasy. This consists of informing them "seriously" that it was time that they were told that the people they had been calling their parents were not their real parents, that their real parents were "star people" who had to leave earth and did not dare take them with them because the space ship was damaged, and so they had left them with these earthling foster parents, knowing that as "star children" they could somehow survive no matter how miserable it was, and if the space ship made it, their "star parents" would be back for them at a later time.

Usually I say that I have had word from their real parents that they will be returning to earth next month to pick up the star children they left and that they will then take the client back to her or his "own people."

Almost every client to whom this is said discharges voluminously. If listened to after the discharge, they will express a great sense of freedom at being "released" from the relationship with the people they had considered their real parents until now.

All these things, considered together, made me realize what an unfortunate vehicle the so-called parent-child or ancestor-descendant relationship is for the oppressive society and the patterned cultures to impose hurtful nonsense on us in the form of these expectations, obligations, and assumptions that we would never accept if we were free to think for ourselves.

In the older cultures tremendous obligations were and are laid on children to "take care" of their parents, I suspect so that the society would not have to take any responsibility for them. This has been diluted somewhat in recent years in the West, although not so much but that we feel guilty about our parents being abandoned in nursing homes, even if we are still too timid to insist that society create an alternative.

The notion is still almost unchallenged that one is "of course" obligated to one's children. After all, the parents brought the children into the world without consulting them; the parents must certainly be obligated to take care of them, yes? It was an enormous relief to me a few years ago when my discharge and re-evaluation led me to the realization that anything my children would need from me I would, of course, do for them because I wanted to. I did not need any obligations to make me perform any rational acts in this area.

The whole notion that we "descend" from each other, pounded in heavily by the educational institutions and the cultures, by the patterns of the people around us and by the appearance of us issuing from our parents' bodies, can now be dispensed with. Those whom we have regarded as our ancestors or our descendants are simply fellow branches growing on the genetic trunk somewhat adjacent to us, fully human and delightful and able to be enjoyed and cherished, but having no other real relationship with us than that of friend, acquaintance, and fellow human, just as do all other humans.

To realize this can free us from an enormous load of taken-for-granted notions that have burdened our thinking and functioning. It can set us free to think for ourselves, to start our relationships over and to live as delightful friends with every human being with whom we wish to be friends. Starting completely fresh, what kind of relationship would you like to have with me?

Harvey Jackins



Last modified: 2016-12-20 06:43:20-08