why we are who we are

How does one’s personal heritage affect one’s duties to our nation? Why We Are Who We Are
Heritage is our history, our different knowledge, the values and traditions that we have developed with a combination of genes and culture over time. Heritage, whether it be cultural, national, or just in our families is an endowment of legacies; but foremost, heritage is our history. It is responsible for how we came to be, it is a very large part of who and what we are, and it can determine what we will become. As humans, we possess free agency; we can determine our future to great degrees with one simple decision, we may deceive ourselves into believing the past has no impact on us; however, the choices we make and past events we have witnessed have very profound and long-lasting impacts on any decision we have made, are making now, or ever will make. Heritage is an unconscious accumulation of heredity, judgments, and environmental factors that have individually affected us all, and continues to affect us.

Because our heritage is such an essential part of life, because we cannot make a decision outside of its context, and because no one can disassociate it from themselves, it is imperative for us to know about, understand, and embrace our heritage. Being aware of our heritage assists in appreciating what we have and to see our shortcomings so they can be addressed in the future. Acknowledging one’s heritage is a prerequisite fund of knowledge that is needed in order to take actions to sustain our way of life. In order to preserve our heritage, it is our duty to educate others who do not know better and to remind ourselves of the sacrifices that have been made that developed our nation’s heritage into what it is today. The children that live in today’s world are bombarded by the information of our nation’s past, present, and future; they are in dire need to be enlightened about their nation’s heritage because they know no other way.

Children need to recognize that the life they have in the United States is not in any way a birth right – but alternatively, it is a gift from the culmination of past generations who had to go through a tremendous amount of courage, hard work, pain, risk, loss of life, and an excessive amount of mistakes to learn and grow to get where we are today. The younger generation needs to be made aware that they are going to be the custodians of this country and be taught how to do that well and be prepared to accept the consequences of their choices.

Reminding ourselves of our heritage is also relevant for similar reasons; however, it has additional significance because, as we grow up and become more absorbed in being involved in the day-to-day pursuit of our own lives, it has become easier to forget that what we have today is not something we can take for granted, and that a free society requires continuous vigilance and substantial energy. People may say that knowing about their personal or national heritage is meaningless; nonetheless, when it comes down to the black and white, remembering the sacrifices that have been made by the people before us provides the motivation and justification for active citizenship and not because we have to, but because we want to.

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