From: L. Michael Hall
2021 Neurons #51
August 13, 2021
Can Save Politics #8
HISTORY IS FOREVER OR IS IT?
How should we think about what someone did in the past? Is it truly past or is it still alive? Obvious, someone, or many some ones, did something, good or bad, and it influenced those who were born afterwards. Now once upon a time in human history, when a country conquered another country, they would take the people defeated and turned them into slaves and make them work for them. From ancient Egyptians to Romans to European colonizing countries, it was a developmental stage that our ancestors went through. It was an aspect of man’s inhumanity to man.
Fast forward several centuries, and we learned better. Knowledge grow, science developed, mankind learned how to test and validate ideas and as we learned better, we developed better ideas — democracy, equality of persons, rule of law, balance of powers, etc. As we learned, we became more conscious and more conscientious about our actions. Legislators forbid the slave industry almost from the beginning of this country, Lincoln freed the slaves, the Civil Rights movement inspired and motivated new legislation to move us step by step toward “a more perfect union.”
But with Critical Race Theory (CRT) there is a really bad idea about history. Whatever bad things that happened in history continue today and cannot be undone except by total Revolution. They fail to see and appreciate the continuous learning and development making us a more color-blind nation. In fact, the promoters of CRT scoff at Martin Luther King’s idea of color-blind. Instead they push a racist ideology just as a reversed racial ideology was pushed upon their great, great, great grandparents. Of course, it was not pushed on them personally, they were not around! CRT has simply reversed the racism and are trying to do in kind what has been done a hundred years ago.
The really bad idea is that “the past is still alive.” That’s also a stupid idea. It leads to thinking that what happened in 1619 or what happened in 1860 or the 1930s is still a problem that needs to be solved today. A much better idea is that “what happened in the past is past. It is done and over with.” Certainly consequences from the past may continue, and if so, then if there is something happening today that’s hurtful, or ugly, or de-humanizing, then we need to address that as a problem to be solved. But the problem we’re solving is not the past, or in the past, it is in the present— here and now.
Those who focus on the past and complain about the injustices and cruelties of the past are also the very ones who disdain all of the progress that we have made over the centuries toward a more perfect uhion. It was in the 19th century that the great majority of nations outlawed slavery. In the US, we fought a bloody Civil War to end slavery. After that it still took the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s to bring about groundbreaking legal changes that made equality the law of the land. It took the visionary leadership of Martin Luther King Jr. to change the focus from “the color of one’s skin” to “the one’s character.”
The past is not forever and it is certainly no longer present. It is past. That’s why we call it the past. It is done and gone. The best idea is to live today and focus on what we can do today that will make for a brighter future.