Saturday, April 6, 2013

Future Past

Others say “If we don’t look forward, we won’t have a bright future.” This might be a good piece of advice for people who hide in the past, but it is hardly constructive for people who surrender themselves to memory deletion.
On China’s State-Sponsored Amnesia
But how, I wonder, does one distinguish the two?

I recall arguments between myself and family and friends, where we tossed those accusations back and forth. I would argue that it imperiled the future to live in the past, and they would respond that I had been brainwashed by powerful interests who sough to hide their misdeeds to evade justice. In the end, we never reconciled. They still refuse to acknowledge that it isn't 1950 anymore and I refuse to see how I'm abetting and perpetuating injustice. Which of us is right? Either of us? Both?

History is a strange thing because we often don't want to differentiate between it and the present. Unless we do. When we want to nurse our dislike for people or institutions past acts become destiny, proof of an enduring evil that can never be altered. We willingly tar people with the sins of forefathers so long dead that they're well on their way to becoming fossil fuels. When we want to like someone, the actions of the past become bad choices, sometimes driven by youthful indiscretion, sometimes by forces outside of the person's control. Bygones, we tell ourselves, are bygones, and the next time, things will be different.

And when we champion the past as destiny, we tell those who disagree that they're hiding from the past. And when we don't, we see that others are living in the past. So, what IS the best way to reconcile the past with the present and not compromise the future? Or are we each left to find our own path?

No comments: