Registration for RootsTech 2022 is now open, and we are pleased to announce that this year, RootsTech's theme is "Choose Connection."
Renowned American scholar and author Brené Brown says this about connection: "Connection is why we're here. It is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives."1
That particular insight seems to be increasingly important the more the world enters into a digital age. Surrounded by devices, technology, and distraction that seem to celebrate hyper-individualism, human connection is both in demand and seemingly in low supply. But it doesn't have to be.
The Power of Stories
Around the year 300 BC, a dynamic Hindu sage named Vyasa traveled the regions around his homeland, going from village to village, bringing with him stories, philosophy, and news. His great work, compiled as Mahābhārata, stands as a sacred work in Hinduism and, like many other sacred texts, tells the stories of his people in great detail. It is, for the Hindu people, a means of connection to a place, a time, and a people that gives them great strength.
The Middle Ages of Europe had a similar tradition. Their troubadours and minstrels would travel from town to town extolling the news of far-flung villages and exotic lands to the great delight of everyone in the area. In fact, kings and queens would often invite these traveling storytellers to their great halls with tremendous anticipation, looking for everything from entertainment to insight. But troubadour beware! If you told a story that displeased the monarch, there were often the gallows to pay—unless that silver tongue caught a whiff of brilliance to talk you out of such dire consequences. A good story has surely saved many lives.
Even in the American West, such storytelling traditions were common. Newsmen, as they were called, galloped their way from Texas to California, picking up newspapers in every city and town along the way and then curating those stories for more rural audiences. They were paid handsomely for their information and had significant influence on the towns they visited, offering solutions, collaborating with government officials, and even at times helping provide medical assistance. The stories and knowledge they carried with them were considered life changing.
From these examples in history, we can see the importance of connecting through stories. We learn that if we listen carefully to the stories of others, we will be changed in the process.
How to Choose Connection
Of all the ways to choose connection in this world, listening to another person's story with interest and empathy might be the best way to start. And in family history, isn't that what we're always doing? We may not get to hear the story directly from our ancestors, but understanding the story of our ancestors helps us better understand ourselves. In short, as we discover our family history, we find ourselves.
This year on the RootsTech blog, we'll be highlighting the ways we connect, and we invite you to share with us the ways you connect! As we prepare for RootsTech 2022, show us how you #chooseconnection on social media! We want to see the difference you're making in the world and how your individual connections are bringing all of us closer together.
Join Us for RootsTech 2022
And don't forget to register for RootsTech! RootsTech will be held online this year on 3–5 March 2022. Join us for 3 days of inspiring and uplifting stories that will connect you to the friends, family, and places that matter most.
The German physicist and theologian Albert Schweitzer has said: "At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us."2
We hope that as you #chooseconnection, you too can ignite a flame in another person—and in yourself. After all, isn't that what the human experience is all about?