In quiet observance of some of our latest pop-culture absurdities, I found some useful truisms in an old Longfellow Psalm that I decided to doctor up a little bit with some Chris’isms. The moral of the story is multifaceted. First: Although you may be hurting individually or even as a community, history is always going to have winners and losers. That doesn’t mean we should erase the history so you can feel better about yourself. History belongs to everyone. We and our children learn from history, both good and bad.
Second: Our good history is another’s bad history. What makes you proud, hurts another. What you run away from, other’s run to. If history is hurting you and not healing you, grow up – history cannot by itself hurt you, you are hurting you. If we are successful at erasing the history that hurts us most, we’re putting our children in danger of becoming secondary victims of lessons we’ve already learned – then summarily lost.
Lastly, if you cannot find one morsel of empathy or logic in another’s alternative ideology, you’re not thinking deep enough. Although I may not agree 100% with everyone I encounter, I seldom hear any opinion with which I cannot somewhat empathize. Don’t be afraid to prove yourself wrong. It’s liberating to be wrong sometimes.
Tell me not, in mournful mobs,
Lives of past are empty dreams,
For the soul is dead and there are odds,
That things may not be what they seem.
History is real! History is earnest!
And the grave is surely not the goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
And risk forget our histories toll.
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our-destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us farther than today.
Life is long, and Time is fleeting
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Bull horns blaring, marches leading
Spray paint tags upon the grave.
In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of our Life,
Be not dumb, like driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!
Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Dare not stray from living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A Forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.
Men found great by time gone by,
May fall from favor, his deeds undressed,
Should we erase, exhume, untie;
History then becomes suppressed?
Lessons lost, apt be Repeated,
Our future yearns for all experience.
Selfishness prevails the child is cheated,
Insecurity manifests the devil’s deliverance.
Leave alone and let be the dead,
The shackles’ keys have long been lost.
Bronze and stone statues are tying threads,
And remind us of that fateful cost.
Change a name, tear down a marker,
Erase, redact, our right to censor.
Less enlightened – our world is darker.
Sympathy grows an incurable cancer.
Let, us then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor, learn to wait.
Let your deeds be yours
And not the elimination of another’s.