Ancestors: you don't get any credit for them, but then again you also don't deserve any blame.
Their world, the past, is a foreign country, its customs only dimly recognizable.
How can we understand them or judge them?
Do we ask
"Did they do much with little?" ?
Or how about
"Did they rise above the ethical challenges of their age, or succumb to the prejudices and hatreds of their time?" ?
In the end, there is nothing more to say.
They lived as best they could, felt and acted as their time and circumstances permitted.
Today we have only the worn photographs and a few fragmentary stories.
Yet to gaze into the image of their eyes is to project ourselves through time in the most intimate kind of time travel.
Under that faded image is some part of ourselves.
These are the lives that lead to the lives that lead to us. Their values were surely different from ours.
But the flesh and bone is there, some part of the same physical stuff that constitutes our selfhood today.
They are flesh of our flesh, bone of our bones, islands in a river of consciousness flowing down centuries to us.