A World of Cousins

by | Aug 30, 2012 | Community, Reflection

You have 16 great-great grandparents probably born around the middle to late 1800s.


If each of 8 couples and all successive generations had 2 children, there would be 128 children in your generation with the same great-great grandparents as you. If you increased the number of children to 3 (a more historically accurate average), the amount of decedents from your great-great grandparents is 648! Go back one more generation to your great-great-great grandparents, and your distant cousins are now 3,888!


How many of the 3,888 6th-generation cousins do you know of in your family tree?


Fun Fact: The Guinness Book of World Records recognizes the descendants of Chinese philosopher Confucius, born 2,566 years ago, as part of the largest documented family tree. Now spanning over 80 generations, there are more than 1.5 million descendants of Confucius alive today!


The inspiration for this post sprung from an assignment to explore my family genealogy of five generations before me. Although it is exciting to discover details regarding my ancestry, I am a little unsure about actually locating the information of these 30 ancestors. It is interesting that the documentation of family history can get so foggy so quickly even though it is living in our bodies.


Why is genealogy important to healing the earth?


Well, its interesting that human beings have choose the term ‘family tree’ to describe genealogy because the branch network of a tree is so complex and integrated. For the tree to survive, all the branches need to work together – the tree is a whole living system. If we go back far enough, maybe every person shares the same vibrant leaf? Actually, a documentary by National Geographic, Human Family Tree, has determined that the ‘leaf’ or seed is one man that lived in a region of Africa 60,000 years ago – our great (x 2,400) grandfather. So the next time we travel home to ‘visit our relatives’, we should say hello to all of our relatives on the plane! If we also view world conflict in this same light, it is as if one branch is trying to break another of the same tree. How can we nurture the entire tree of society?


cousins-tee-shirt1A tree does not just have a trunk and branches though, it also has roots which, in a way, mirror the branches. If our ancestors are the branches and we are the trunk, we can view the roots as our unseen descendants of the future. When we are a 7th-generation grandparent, we will have 128 children (average of 2 children per family) walking in our footsteps with an exponential increase with every generation. What will we leave our family of the future?


We are connected (in the most visceral sense) to all of those before us and all of those after us.


This post made me think of a new t-shirt idea…



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Creative, enthusiastic leader dedicated to the transformation of self, community, and the planet


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