Of course. They shape some of our ideas and sense of self. They shape, to some extent, sense of of physical identity. I have very almond shaped blue eyes and sallow skin that tans a dark bronze and never burns. Ah. Southern Russian, most think, and they are right........ that is where my mother is from. But other than finding that scientifically amusing, the only other thing it means is that I like glumpkies, potato pancakes, and our family crosses have an extra line on them.
Am I proud to be of Russian decent? Um, sure. Does it make me better than other people? Uh, no. Does it make me worse than other people? No again.
It doesn't really matter what my ancestors did. What matters is what I do. My great grandmother was one of the first female governers of that generation. It doesn't grant me any special political proclivity. It makes me think, "Wow. What a strong person." I think the same thing about JFK, and believe me, there's no relation there.
I do not believe that we can claim greatness based upon what our genetic predecsors have done. We carry DNA down the line. We carry recessive mutations, we carry receeding hairlines. We carry a predispostion for hieght and body type. Our past is a part of us, but it isn't all of us.
I thought I would pass down my neon blue eyes to my children. One has green eyes, the other has brown. Now sure, my genes had nothing to do with my youngest daughter's brown eyes, but I really never thought my genes would be passing down green eyes to my oldest daughter, either.
The spark in those green and brown eyes, however, I put there. All me. I'm passing down a love of animals, a desire to learn and communicate, respect and responsibility for others, the will to fight for the things that we love, and a heartfelt appreciation and passionate defense for the amazing freedom that we have.
So do origins matter? They do if they are taught. If you teach your children that they are nothing beyond what their predecessors were, than that is what they will derive thier self worth from. If you teach your children that they are what they belive in, they can be anything.
Can a child of Kenya, born in America, lead our country? Yes he can. I think his parents taught him to be proud of what he is.