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In the UK, we have two or three programmes on the TV, in which

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Joe Chi Minh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-19-06 06:15 PM
Original message
In the UK, we have two or three programmes on the TV, in which
Edited on Thu Oct-19-06 06:18 PM by KCabotDullesMarxIII
various people, mostly, though not exclusively, TV celebrities of some kind, with the help of experts, trace some of the genealogy of their families.

Here's the strange thing. The impression I have is that being in the media, they're generally not overly sensitive or retiring, but have to be quite hard and pushy, self-centered even. Yet, when they discover that ancestors of theirs several generations back, long before their time, suffered severe poverty and injustice, they are often moved to tears; too choked to be able to speak or face the camera for a while. Personally, I believe that, at that time, those same great great, etc, grand-parents must connect with them on a supernatural/psychic level, making direct contact with their spirit in some mysterious way.

The well-springs of tears seem to vary very widely, and can come upon a person very suddenly, unexpectedly, even mysteriously; just as they can vary from extreme bitterness to extreme sweetness. I think we tend to be more prone to tears at another person's generosity of spirit, their kindness than at the cruelty or badness of others.

However, normally, we are inured to a large extent to the sufferings of others, out of sight and unknown to us, as we read so much of a distressing and/or enraging nature every day in our newspapers, and we simple couldn't handle it (I often read just the head-lines of stuff that looks as if it's going to be harrowing to read). And surely you would expect pretty much the same in relation even to our own ancestors several generations ago. But it ain't so, it seems. They're watching us, folks, and following our toilsome little lives with the same loving interest we apparently show in relation to what we discover of their trials and tribulations. So, it seems to me.
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CBHagman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-20-06 10:07 PM
Response to Original message
1. I'd like to see that.
What are these programs called?

The only genealogy programs I've seen on TV in the States have been on public TV, and those have been generally DNA and/or "History Detective" type things.

One of my co-workers says that during genealogical research, she's had a feeling of a relative helping her along.

My relatives, on the other hand, are not known to drop in for a visit, except in dreams. :-) But I would like to think that they would enjoy the fact that I am interested in their lives and still talk about them.

However, there are times in my life when I think of particular relatives, people I knew or couldn't have known, and there's a real sense of relationship and family love there. Often when I am praying in a particular chapel I think of one of my great-great-grandfathers. I don't know why that's so. I assume he was a devout man, given the inclinations on that branch of the family! :-)
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Joe Chi Minh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-21-06 12:25 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. I've found one in last week's programme guide. It 's called,
Family Ties, and was on BBC 4. When I come across others, I'll post again.

You may have seen a post of fudge-stripe cookay on this thread, in which she mentions having the impression that some of her ancestors were helping her out in her investigations. She certainly was prompted in ways that seemed to stretch the notion of coincidence.
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TheBaldyMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-21-06 03:10 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. "Who Do You Think You Are?" is now in its second series,
Edited on Sat Oct-21-06 03:12 PM by TheBaldyMan
It traces the ancestry of that week's celeb back as far as it will go. Absolutely memsmerising television. The first series didn't get any huge stars and settled for people you wouldn't normally think of as celebrities, in the sense of being famous for being famous or perhaps actors and TV hosts. Mainly people who were famous for outstanding efforts in their own field.

One of the first subjects was Moira Stewart a BBC newsreader and the first Black woman to read the national TV news in the UK. She was able to trace her ancestors back to the West Indies to the days of slavery. It was quite touching seeing her examine the records of her ancestors' sale. It certainly brought a lump to my throat watching it.

There was also Jeremy Paxman from the "Newsnight" investigative news programme. He managed to track down his great-grandmother living in Glasgow, after she was widowed she was reduced to the conditon of extreme poverty, forced to relay on parish charity she later had an illegitimate child and some busybody informed the church authourities and all financial assistance ceased. Mr. Paxman was understandably upset, evenly mixing grief and rage.

All the people involved didn't come from aristocratic backgrounds and the series are priceless documents of social history for Britain in the last three centuries. Our ancestors had a really hard life, truly awful working and living conditions contributed to high mortality and poor health.
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Joe Chi Minh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-21-06 03:47 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Am I right in thinking there's been another genealogy programme
Edited on Sat Oct-21-06 03:47 PM by KCabotDullesMarxIII
on the box recently? I could be mistaken about it.

Only the other day, I saw a young person, here in the UK, wrapped in a blanket sitting on the cold pavement next to a cash-point, that I'm surprised you think it perfectly natural that people should grieve for the cruel economic oppression suffered by their ancestors several generations ago. Do you really think feeling compassion for family and strangers so disparate?

Before the accession of the barbarian, Thatcher and her subsequent followers right up to the present, homelessness was much less widespread, yet a quarter of a century has elapsed, and now we no longer hear anything about the "cardboard cities"; just how successful!!!! our economy is, and about the fierce upward spiral of crime - as if there was no connection.
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TheBaldyMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-22-06 07:47 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. the prog. I mentioned was on BBC 2 first series, then moved over to BBC 1
Edited on Sun Oct-22-06 07:53 AM by TheBaldyMan
so you are most probably right about 'Family Ties' as that's on BBC 4.

About your point about the reaction of the people when some distress suffered by an ancestor was discovered. you said:
Only the other day, I saw a young person, here in the UK, wrapped in a blanket sitting on the cold pavement next to a cash-point, that I'm surprised you think it perfectly natural that people should grieve for the cruel economic oppression suffered by their ancestors several generations ago. Do you really think feeling compassion for family and strangers so disparate?
At no point did I express any disparity between the compassion expressed by the participants in the programme for their ancestors or those unfortunates in todays society, the programme wasn't an investigation into homelessness in Britain today.

Over both series however, there have been repeated comparisons with, for example, Georgian or Victorian Britain and life in 20th & 21st century Britain. Universally the participants have expressed nothing but fellow feeling and empathy for those at the bottom of the pile.

on edit : sry I made a mistake, there have been three series of WDYTYA.

link to the 'Who Do You Think You Are?' section on the BBC's website currently showing on Wednesdays 9pm BBC 1, well worth checking out.
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Joe Chi Minh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-22-06 12:18 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. Thank you for the URL. It should be as interesting as ever.
I mentioned the fact that homelessness in the UK has spread like an epidemic since Thatcher's "accession", 26+ years ago. How do you reconcile that with sensitivity to the sufferings of the poorer less worldy-wise people? That is a very pertinent question, though you appear to dismiss it. There is, of course, a connection between national governments and the more worldly-wise, monied folk who tend to be the ones who decide the elections. The two party system is iniquitous and very precious to the politicians of both parties.

I know very good people, mostly, perhsp, too young to remember the welfare state in its prime, who think there is no option to embracing the open-ended greed of Capitalism to remain competitive! As a matter of plain unambiguous fact, as always in the past, the UK has proved less successful than high-income high-taxation countries such as Sweden - even France and Germany. They somehow manage to be more successful economically, while actually providing a high level of social commitment in the form of public services.

Did you read this article posted on here:

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=000AF3D5-6DC...

Others, usually octagenarians and above, of the older generation - often conscientious church-goers - dismiss poorer people as lead-swingers, who don't want to work. A viewpoint of the moneyed folk since Old Testament times, and a most dangerous insensitivity to others singularly less fortunate than themselves economically.

To paraphrase Christ, how is it, as Christ put it, they can become highly emotional about people they cannot see, nor ever could have seen, while they can blithely ignore the plight of the homeless people and millions of people, either unemployed or on impossibly low incomes, whom they can see?

It strikes me as a wholly legitimate question; and all the more puzzling since there is no doubting the sincerity of their sorrow and anger. Imo, it is the faithful departed members of their family, cutting straight through the normally overwhelming imperviousness of the propaganda they have grown up with and see ceaselessly peddled by the media, day in and day out.

With me, it's mostly the other way round, I am always angry about the economic oppression suffered by most of our ancestors, but not tearful. When I see a person begging in the street, THEN I become emotional, then I feel an intense commingled grief and anger. And they don't have to be relatives.
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TheBaldyMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-22-06 01:25 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. I am sorry if I seemed dismissive of your remarks about homelessness
The question is legitimate. The concern for those ignored by, or those unable to participate in, our social system is admirable as well as necessary.

I have first hand experience of Thatcher's Britain. Indeed my entire adult life has been blighted by the administrations of Thatcher, Major and now Blair. I need no lessons about the depredations brought by de-industrialisation. These experiences have left me with an increased confidence in a socialist model for society, rather than the grossly unfair rule of robber barons that passes for socio-economic policy in Britain today.

In the defence of the participants of the programme, at least by the installments that I managed to view, no-one was confronted by homeless people during the making of the films. I am sure this was not a deliberate omission by the programme makers, rather than a circumstance beyond their control.

I hope you do manage to see some of the programmes. I don't know if this will change your opinion of the participants but I think you will enjoy them.
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Joe Chi Minh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-22-06 03:30 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. Good to here where you're coming from in an ambiguous kind of
way. I mean I'm sorry you're one of the millions whose lives have been blighted, but reassured by the enlightened perspective it has reinforced in you.

No, I don't dislike or feel contempt for most of the people I've seen on the programme. Indeed, I found the warmth of their humanity uplifting. What I do feel a deep sorrow about is that our society, i.e. its leaders, inculcate quite a hard-nosed outlook in such people, and its rare that we see their real selves. By such people, I mean political types and journalists.

Nothing so clearly demonstrates to me the extent of the potential for heroic magnanimity of most people, their epic, latent spiritual stature, than the way in which soldiers at the sharp end tend to be more obsessed with protecting their pals than their own skins.

I first read about it in the Mirror a couple of years ago, I think. This old boy was showing another old boy around his house, with a view to selling it to him. But he seemed to recognise him and asked him his name. It turned out he was his pal who he'd fought side by side with throughout the Italian campaign in WWII.

He remarked that the odd thing was that what motivated them all the time was defending each other, rather than saving their own skins. And the same sentiment has been echoed on these threads by young single soldiers, marines or grunts, I think, who bizarrely wanted to go back to that hell on earth (which, alas, they were being forced to contribute to), to defend their pals. At the risk of hideous injury or death. Camaraderie of the highest order. Mankind seems like an iceberg. In our society, we seldom see their hidden depths.



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