Who Do You Think You Are?

We recently canceled our cable TV subscription. The main reason was because it was way too easy to waste way too much time watching mindless, senseless, junk. TBS would suck me in with three consecutive hours of The Big Bang Theory reruns and then all of a sudden it was 11pm. Nothing against these shows. We need mindless escapes from the realities of life and laughing is really healthy. Plus Anna loves to dance to the BBT theme song. But for as much as I love that show, ESPN, and other programming, I know I waste too much time staring at “the idiot box” (as my mother calls it).

But we do have the internet. And that means we can stream TV shows. So basically we can still watch TV if we’d like, and judging by our recent history–we like. I will say that I can only watch when Mihee is home because I don’t know how to set it all up (I am bad with technology).

Tonight we watched a show called “Who Do You Think You Are?” It features a celebrity and helps them trace their roots, often lifting the veil of mystery and allowing them to see “who they are,” at least in terms of their family tree. They are always surprised at some of the findings, which makes sense because otherwise it would be incredibly boring programming. The show is basically an hour long advertisement for ancestry.com, but I really do find genealogy fascinating.

I first saw the episode with Jerome Bettis, but only watched because he’s a retired football player from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Tonight we watched the episode featuring the actor Rashida Jones, because, well, I like Rashida Jones. And no, she didn’t play for the Steelers. She’s on “Parks and Rec,” another of my favorites.

Her dad is Quincy Jones. Her mom is Peggy Lipton. The show focused on her mom’s side and her Jewish roots. Rashida started in NYC, then traveled to Dublin, and then to Latvia. Her powerful story moved her to proclaim that her life is “a miracle.” She makes this claim because many in her family were killed during the senseless and ruthless reign of the Nazis in Europe. Her branch of the family tree fled thus allowing her branch to live on. Those who stayed at home were taken to a forest and killed. She acknowledges that it could have just as easily of been her branch of the tree that was taken out into that horrible forest. But it wasn’t. Coupling that with her father’s ancestry, there are many reasons (slavery and the holocaust) why she could have never been born. But she was. And she calls it a miracle.

And I think she’s right. Life is a miracle. And it takes a million miracles to bring new life into the world. When Mihee was pregnant with the twins everything from conception to healthy growth inside the womb to birth was, in my opinion, a miracle. So many things could have, or have not, happened. Some people seem to think getting pregnant and giving birth to a healthy baby is easy. But it’s not that way for everyone. The more I talk to and listen with others the more I know that to be true. In our case it took a bunch of miracles for our two little miracles to be here keeping us up at night and running us (mostly Mihee) ragged during the day.

I think of my family’s story. My grandfather immigrated to the US with his family from Czechoslovakia when he was (I think) around 7. I’m not sure why they came. Where they fleeing something in Europe? Was it the hope of the “American Dream?” I don’t really know. I do know that Kort is a shortened version of the much longer surname they had as they pulled into Ellis Island. I’d love to learn more and about my mom’s side too. What all happened that led to my birth in Pittsburgh? I know there are hard stories, because I’ve heard some of them. But what haven’t I heard? What don’t I know? Probably a lot.

But in spite of what ever did or did not happen, here I am. Here you are. Alive and living this life. It’s a gift from God. And it’s precious. Identity issues abound for many of us. Are we are job title, our familial role, our interests? Who do you think you are? It’s a good question.

Ultimately, I think Rashida Jones is right. You are a miracle. And if we can somehow start seeing others as a miracle too, then maybe senseless things like the holocaust or racism or sexism or bullying or many of the other ills would begin to go away, buried deep in a forest somewhere. And just maybe the Kingdom of God would be that much closer.