“In our everyday deliberations we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next 7 generations.” Great Law of the 6 Nations of the Iroquois
Yesterday I had the great privilege to hear Winona LaDuke, a Native American activist and environmentalist, speak. She spoke of making decisions based on a long term vision instead of a short term one. She spoke of the impact each generation has on the next. This belief is something that Marriage and Family Therapists hold true as well. Mental health used to be considered an individual’s problem, separate from family or community support or concern. This is simply not accurate. We are interconnected. One of the pioneers of family therapy, Murray Bowen, encouraged people to go back 10 generations to learn how they came to be who they are. His belief was that family patterns, interactions and lessons from past generations form who we are today. If we believe that our behaviors, actions and responses to stress might impact the next 10 generations of our families would you change anything? Would you choose to make different decisions?
This Great Law of the Iroquois has wisdom for many types of decisions, but I could not help thinking about its impact on family living and the choices we make. It is well known that a child who witnesses abuse is more likely to become abused or an abuser later in life. Children raised in homes with addiction are more likely to suffer the effects of addictions later in life as well. Does it not make sense then, that for those people who interrupt cycles of abuse or addiction, that they are not only benefitting themselves, and their children, but many generations to come? It is a powerful thought that by changing ourselves we are also able to change the lives of our children and the children given onto them for countless generations.