The Precedents of Perseverance

Perseverance: steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. It is the key to overcoming your challenges.

Precedent: an earlier event or action that is regarded as an example or guide to be considered in subsequent similar circumstances.

As we go through life, we are certain to face many difficult times. When we wonder whether we have in us what it takes to make it through the hard times. When we may want to give up and run the other way. That’s when it is time to think about the precedents set by those before you.

What do I mean by “those before you”? I mean your ancestors. Look at the numbers of generations who made it through their lives enough for you to be here. Let’s break it down. Let’s look back only 20 generations. Each person has 2 parents, so the number of people doubles each generation. The number of people responsible for making you is 2 + 4 + 16 + 32 + 64 + 128 + 256 + 512 + 1,024 + 2,048 + 4,096 + 8,192 + 16,384 + 32,768 + 65,536 + 131,072 + 262,144 + 524,288 + 1,048,576 + 2,097,152.
The total people is theoretically over 4 million people, but inbreeding would lower that somewhat. The point is that millions of people had to survive being born, make it through childhood, and be able to produce the offspring that led to you. They survived wars, famine, diseases, and accidents. Most lived in unhealthy conditions with poor medical care. That sounds like quite a struggle for many of your ancestors! It was survival of the fittest in action!

So when you face a challenge, think of all those people and the challenges they conquered so you could be here.

If they could persevere, then so can you!

Interesting Footnote: As your family tree goes back in time, it is a pyramid shape because it doubles each generation. The problem is that if that continued, it would outpace the actual population at some time. What happens? In-breeding. I noted that in my count above and it actually becomes significant. The further back you go in time, the less people migrated, the more they married cousins, and less pyramid-like your tree is. This is called “Pedigree Collapse”. It is so significant that by around 1100 AD, maybe 40% of our ancestors are related. The effect is that the pyramid becomes a diamond shape. For each person, the more recent your inter-marriage, the thinner your diamond shape. I found one set of married cousins only 6 generations back in my tree. Want more detail? Here is a good source.

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