I'm not sure what's wrong with people's brains these days, but it seems a large majority of people believes that certain abilities, privileges, and even problems are passed down through the blood. It's part of that whole "it's who you know" thing: people seem more willing to take you seriously if you were "born into" a field, an organization, a profession, whatever . . . and people seem less likely to take you seriously if you come from a family that has problems.

Both of my grandparents on my father's side had vocal music careers. Their children (my aunt and my dad) are an artist and a pretty good pianist (respectively). And my father's children (me and my two younger sisters) can all sing well and have varying degrees of artistic talent. Now, how much are you willing to bet that if I were to become famous for singing and people found out who my grandmother was, they would pinch my cheeks and say, "Oh, she must get it from Marceline!" I'm not sure how much my vocal ability has to do with heredity, it might (and probably does) have something to do with it . . . yet at the same time, I did work hard to train my voice even if I did seem to have natural talent for it, and there are those that have no history of singers in their families that sing quite well. My point is, you don't have to have it in your blood to be legit, and you're not necessarily legit just because you have the blood.

How about royalty? Who says that because you were born of a king and a queen, you're more fit to rule a country? It doesn't come in the genes, and it might not come in the upbringing either. Just stating that you were born of royal stock does not mean diddly squat in itself. Birthright has been an excuse all throughout history to discriminate and take advantage of other people; it was (and still is) the reason for much slavery, privilege, even business deals . . . and there's little to no basis for it.

Some religious sects won't let you in (or at the very least don't give you the same respect) if you were not born of a certain family. If you were not born Jewish (especially if you were--oy gevalt!--raised Christian), to some Jewish people you will always be looked on as second best even if you convert and are more devoted to Judaism than some conservatives. If you married in, some people will give you the title of shiksa or shkutz and you're not looked at as an equal. Is it your fault you weren't born into a Jewish family? No, no one can help what they're born to. And yet many Jewish people might tell you, if you begin to accept and embrace the Jewish faith, that you are not one of God's chosen people--if you were you would have been born a Jew--and therefore you have no business becoming Jewish. End of story. I think that's sad. Same with some other spiritual belief systems, such as some Pagan groups who seem to believe that being born into the fold carries some honors and rights that people born as outsiders cannot hold or cannot appreciate. Especially since Wicca and Witchcraft are becoming sort of "hip" these days (ugh, it's trendy), some people who've practiced the Craft since they were children are thinking it's making them sound more like "the real thing" to say they're "hereditary." Not that being "hereditary" and saying so is wrong, and not that there's anything wrong with being happy that you've had the privilege to be raised with your religion (whatever it may be); I just think it's wrong to treat people who *weren't* raised with it as if they are fakers, or not as much of an authority as you, or as if they don't have the same rights to embrace/practice/preach your religion just because you were born to it and they were not. I think religion is a *personal* thing, and that if someone is coming to the religion you embrace without having been pointed that way since birth, it's a credit to that person's ability to discern what's "right," wouldn't you say?

I must add the disclaimer here that being raised with something, anything (an art or talent in your family, a religion, a business, whatever) increases your chances of having that thing show up in your life. Being born to Christian parents greatly increases the likelihood that you will be Christian, and grow up to teach Christianity to your children, more because it's familiar and was billed in early life as part of the threads of a good person's moral system than because you think it's right. And then again, look at my family. My father's Jewish, my mother converted to Judaism because it was desirable at the time by several parties to have Jewish children . . . and one of them (me) turned out Pagan, one of them (my youngest sister) turned out Christian, and I'm not sure about the other one, she seems to be at least interested in, though not necessarily accepting of, some Eastern religions.

What about if you come from a long line of unstable people? "I have a history of mental illness in my family." What do you think a job interviewer would say if they knew that? Even if you'd never exhibited any mental illness, if you came from a long line of people with mental problems, it's likely people would interpret every little sign as proof that you'd inherited it too. Likely you'd begin to believe it, too, and accept that you were insane. When I was a little girl I wanted to be a ballerina, like a lot of girls do, and I was convinced that the fact that my mother was a cheerleader and loved to dance meant that I had it in me. ::snarf:: Nothing could be further from the truth. I can't dance worth a crap and I probably couldn't then either. But I bet I could if I'd ever pursued dancing lessons to any degree.

I think the main reason for this rambling essay is to make one point: you have to earn your accomplishments. You can't just be born with them. I'm not dissing "talent," or ranting because I'm bitter that I don't have any--many things have come easily to me as if I was born to do them, but I still had to try. Mariah Carey was born with an amazing vocal range but she still had to learn to use her voice, write songs, and do something to get discovered. Albert Einstein was born with the capacity to understand complex concepts, but he still had to think about them, put them down on paper, and share them. And millions of families hold values, belief systems, talents, and liabilities that do not "rub off," so to speak, on their children.

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