I recently viewed a a video by Tim Pool, who’s quickly becoming one of my favorites on YouTube, concerning the issue of how we, as a society, are trying to erase inconvenient history. I don’t think there’s a country, anywhere, that doesn’t have some historical missteps they’d like to forget, and have the rest of the world forget as well, but it is what it is and even though we today are not responsible for the misdeeds of our ancestors, we somehow have a need to try and wipe the slate clean. We need to disabuse ourselves of the past, to the point to deleting those from the historical record that have become too controversial for us, although they may have been dead for decades, or centuries.
I tend to think that removing those people from our history that we’ve come to learn are not necessarily what we thought they were is just an attempt to purify ourselves in some way, to make us all, today, less culpable for the society we live in. But in doing this, we take the chance that future generations will never know what the struggles were to overcome those dark periods. In fact, if we were to suddenly erase all of that from our history, we actually wouldn’t have any. Personally, I believe in the axiom, which Tim mentions in his video, that those that forget history, are doomed to repeat it. It’s all around us today, if we simply take a moment to stop and observe.
Think about the monuments to Confederate heroes that have been removed from the public square. Yes, they fought against their own country, wanting to protect the status quo of slavery, but in removing those statues and monuments, does that make any of us less susceptible to the same? Of course not. We have an obligation to remember those dark days. That same Civil War cost the lives of some 750,000 combined (That number is a estimation, based on what we know right now. The actual number is unknown.). That’s more soldiers than we lost in Europe and the Pacific, by half, during World War 2.
I don’t want that to be forgotten. I don’t want history placed through a filter where only those events that make us look good are in those same history books, and the other are excised. I want us all to remember where we came from and how we got here, today.
I read. I read a lot compared to most people I know. I love reading history whether it’s U.S. history, European, or ancient. My favorite is World War 1. My paternal grandfather fought there, and I absorb every book, every article, I can find on that horrific part of human history. I would be appalled if for some reason, those same books and articles were somehow sent down the memory hole of time simply because the story of how it began, those critical battles, were somehow deemed inappropriate for the current governments. It’s not only erasing history, but those individuals who gave their lives for what they believed.
We can be better. We can and should, no matter where we live, acknowledge the past but in the sense that we are no longer those same people. Those same events and people that have become inconvenient reminders of events we’d rather place behind us, are in fact just that: reminders. Removing them doesn’t grant anyone absolution. No matter what we may attempt, we can’t change the past. All we can do is acknowledge it, and move on.