This is a great video I think everyone should watch. It is hard for me to fully comprehend how things in this world can possibly be going as backwards as they are because if you just read–pick up a damn book, look at a newspaper, or hey, even watch a ten minute documentary you can clearly see the past and the mistakes that we have made as a country, and more to the point, as human beings. And yet, look around you, look at what is happening in the world. What is starting again. Everything we say we abhor is reemerging, why? Because we keep ignoring the past, we keep refusing to see the wisdom we have gained, and we are actively hiding and lying by omission to people about our history. The thing is by ignoring the past, hiding it, pretending our country is better than any other, we are damning our present and ourselves. The state of the world today is volatile and to change it we have to realize that the answer lies in the past. This has happened before. And, it’s happening again. It is illogical and enraging that the world seems to heading down the same path we humans have gone down multiple times already. How can people not get it? How have we not learned?
Well, the answer is simple. Because we ignore the past, we are going to keep walking the same path. We haven’t changed enough. We like to think of ourselves as so much better than the past, than the mistakes, than our ancestors. We say we are beyond it. The world much better than it used to be, and to a certain degree, that is true. And yet, that doesn’t mean we are any better than those that came before us, it doesn’t mean we are somehow more morally sound, it doesn’t mean we should be ignoring and hiding the past. This is how we end up following the same self-destructive path that the world has been on since we emerged half-cocked from the primordial dust.
Anyways, this was a video by a local news station, and it’s worth watching. It shows how an exhibit of one of Canada’s “dark moments” impacted the lives of everyday people, but more than that, it manages to touch on much larger issues that need to be addressed. Namely, the idea that we need to hide our country’s mistakes and people’s atrocities for the sake of our children. Well, that is wrong. Children need to know or else you end up with a class of kids who stand up and give the nazi salute. But more than that, we need to own up to our own country’s major screwups. Canada is about as perfect as any country, meaning, it isn’t. It commit atrocities like any other country. When we ignore the past and stuff it down, I guarantee you it will come back with a vengeance.
There is not a country (or a person) that exists that is the perfect shining example of justice and morality. A country is run by people, or a person, and people not only have the striking ability to give into corruption, and to fail, to make mistakes, and errors in judgement. But, human beings are known for this. All the time, we make mistakes–some are simple, so simple they seem inconsequential, but they’re still mistakes. We all make mistakes. That is the freaking hallmark of humanity–the entirety of the human population is an example of this. And, as much as we may want to, we can’t get away from the fact that in order to learn and grow we often have to learn the hard way–and make huge mistakes. Royally screwing up is second nature to humanity. Some people, and by extension countries, are just leagues ahead compared to the mistakes the average person will experience. But the fact remains, we screw up more often than not. And hiding from that fact, glorifying a country, or a person, painting them as the paradigm of good–of what is just and right and moral, is a game for fools, children, and (a)moralistic morons.
Ignoring and/or hiding the atrocities and the grave mistakes of a country (or of people in general) is how we repeat the past. It is like signing an execution warrant without reading the name, and then finding out you just condemned yourself.
Hero worship is toxic and deadly. No one is perfect. And, I’m not just talking about the obvious example of twisted morally-painted injustice such as the excessive admiration and hero worship (to this day) of individuals in our history like Christopher Columbus, but even people we believe to be the living personifications of morality and peace, like Gandhi or Mother Theresa. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, even they are not perfect. No one is. Perfection is a misguided concept. And, once you make your peace with that you’ll be much better off.
People cannot be perfect, a state of perfection can only exist in thought, possibly in art, and maybe in some mythic unknowable afterlife, but here and now, perfection is a myth. There is only “perfect enough” or “imperfect”; so to conclude, no country can exist in a state of perfection. And every country, every community, every person who has ever lived, and will ever live, has skeletons in the closet and shadows behind them. The more we hide from this fact the faster we lead generations down the exact same toxic road so many of us have already been down countless times. It has to stop.
People are good and bad. You can’t hide from that fact. So learn to accept this, move on, and validate the good and bad–see both, as it is, and then work like hell to change the bad of the world, into the good. Being good, doing good, is as much a choice as anything else. And, we can’t hide the atrocities of our countries or humanity, and we never should have. We need to own up to the past and the mistakes and then learn from them. We don’t need to become them, we don’t need to let them destroy us; we just need to call them by name, see them as they are, and then work like hell to ensure something like it never happens again. In the video Anna Maria Gordon, the woman being interviewed says: “We can’t blame the present for the past” but we can (and frankly we have to) own it, accept it and learn from it. We have to open Pandora’s box. We have to be honest. We can’t hide anymore. We can’t keep living in this (a)moralistic fantasy so many of us have created-separating us from them, good from bad, etc, etc. It’s time to look to the past so we don’t keep screwing up our present, and so we don’t condemn the future.
And, it really is that simple.