History should be a tool for empowerment and betterment, not confinement
Robert, the risks you point out are worth watching for but what you fail to mention is that the history that has been taught is always that of the victor and that of the hegemony. Its all very well to say we should learn from history and move on, but not when that history is one-sided or misrepresents the experience of those who have been at the wrong end of the stick whether due to gender, ethnicity, or economic status etc. , we need to bring in those perspectives and experiences as well and acknowledge that the history we teach is partial and incomplete. What's happening in our schools is an effort to further undermine and disavow voices that have been missing from the narrative. The way forward is for those who have been at the top of the totem pole to soberly acknowledge the wrongdoings of the past, and allow those who seek to rebalance the narrative have a voice, rather than seek to further silence them. Maybe then we can begin to move away from the polemics that you mention.
Two opposite things are true at the same time: 1) Grievance and shame are never effective tools for social justice. 2) People in historically oppressed groups who want change in their lifetime grow weary of the message, "Your call is important to us. Please continue to hold." What a pickle!
What a great balanced point of view. Looking at the previous commenters thoughts, I can honestly see the validity. However, I think your essay clearly notes that both oppressor and oppressed have responsibility in moving forward, both for the betterment of our world.
I would love to see more examples of what you're describing. When I discuss history like slavery, German invation of my mother land or the more recent raid on the Capitol, I often hear "get over it... that was in the past, lets move on". We look at the sins of the past as if they have an expiration date, without acknowledging the ongoing ramifications that are felt by many still to this day. Giving us some specific examples would make it more clear to me as to your perspective.
What doesn't get addressed is that the mere mention of an accurate history gets dismissed as someone having a victim mindset or too focused on oppression. We haven't even learned how to have these authentic conversations without someone lobbing accusations or name calling. These new conversations being labeled as "woke" were conversations I've had all my life growing up. They didn't create a victim, they taught me perseverance and inspired me to push through. People who fear creating a society of "victimhood" simply by having truthful conversations are likely: (1) feel uncomfortable by the dissonance created by this discourse since it upends what they thought they knew, and (2) isn't properly informed by people who have much more experience with these types of conversations -- many of them are far from victims and nor are the children they impart this wisdom to.
Past , present and future are indeed an integral continnum in the eternity frame . There is much to learn from the past and much to be applied and adjusted in our present life and conduct .
These will have eternal consequences .
As a member of a colonized society, your article struck a cord within me. Unless history is taught as it happened, and not as a made up "story", by those in power, all the lessons are lost.
I agree, something needs to change, and soon.
Rick's comment and your post has reminded me of a recent conversation.
I think it's important holding people accountable for their actions, not for the actions through history of their group of origin.
I feel responsible, proud or ashamed, for how I view the world and how I act, but feel absolutely nothing about my group in history. I'm fortunate to see both oppressed and opressors in my group of origin, and a friend pointed out that's why I feel so strongly in favour of agency and against feeling a victim of history. That and the luck of a safe personal context.
And maybe that comment is right because in my view it's simple to move from a mindset of victim to a mindset of agency (understanding the only possible action for someone while being oppressed or victimised may be control their thoughts about themselves and their attackers and stay alert to options). However, for a person currently being victimised, history is certainly much more relevant...
I participated in a workshop last week offered by a woman to show how her community found a way to heal together after suffering displacement and being victims to rape, assault and other horrific crimes. They were assisted by a psychologist, who taught them the basics of meditation, and they focus on finding peace by making tapestry. Following her powerful lead, it was easy to feel the peace that has helped her and her community feel strong and forgive their oppressors to the point of being able to converse with them and find closure together. Of course, the context enables this: the perpetrators have been brought to court (a paramilitary group in Colombia).
It would be so simple to judge by actions and not motives (religion, politics, historical power or retaliation, etc.) I get the feeling history would then really be for learning and not for justifying actions.
It’s all about the way we educate our kids and build their critical thinking.
Concerning adults, it’s our ability to have access to numerous sources, and have a philosophical approach.
But the reality is: how we, lambda citizens can influence ?
I’m confused by this sentence. It seems backwards to me.
“We will struggle to maintain a healthy social discourse if we apply rules that say some people are held accountable for their actions of the present day while others are excused based on things that happened before they were born.”
Why wouldn’t hold people accountable for the present and excuse based on history that preceded them? It’s really hard to fix things that occurred before you were born. Indeed, no one has any control over that.