October 24, 2014
History is full of bright spots and blemishes alike. For every Declaration of Independence there is a Tiananmen Square. For every Nelson Mandela, a Joseph Stalin. And for every moon landing, a Chernobyl. Family history is no different.
“In the course of exploring the past, it’s almost inevitable that some less-than-savory stories are going to come up,” says Karen McNeill, Director of Family History for Ascent Private Capital Management. “Every family has its skeletons. The question is: Are they worth pursuing? Or should they stay in the closet?”
Although some skeletons are best left alone, others have extremely interesting and valuable stories to tell.
“We shouldn’t be scared of our skeletons,” McNeillsays.“They aren’t inherently bad. In some cases, they’re a fascinating tool to open up conversations about family communications, dynamics and values.”
Philosopher George Santayana’s famous observation comes to mind: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Like the societies in which they live, families that wish to unearth their skeletons can turn secrets into opportunities and scandals into lessons learned.