Learning about your past, the past, any past requires an open mind and open eyes. An attention to detail, circumstances, and motivation are crucial. Preconceived notions, biases and wishes need to be set aside so that a clear and open mind is available to absorb the scenery. As an Frank Zappa once said:
A mind is like a parachute- it works best, when open.
Over the past few months, I have come into contact with a fair amount of web traffic, email and other-wise, where it seems, to me anyway, that many people are operating with a “closed parachute”. It seems to me that many conversants seem to be operating from a bias of pre-conceived notions. I hear from others that I can be counted among this group, as well.
Even so, I have to say that all of us need to be more aware of the possibility that history may not be quite as simple as our preferred belief systems would have it be. Or as Steven Hawking said:
The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.
Or stated ‘slightly’ differently by Reverend Denny Brake:
Some minds are like concrete: thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
I have noticed innumerable attempts by ‘folks’ to rewrite the past either by misinterpretation of historical context or because of discomfort with the facts. Many attempt to justify unconscionable historical actions as being an outgrowth or reaction to previous historical mistakes. Still others believe that if they speak loud, hard and passionately enough the past will somehow be changed.
Historical errors, mistakes, atrocities were all built by fallible humans; no different from the fallible people of today. The fears and concerns of the past mirror those of today. Blind, insensitive anger, negativity, and misguided passions have always led to negative behaviors with even more negative consequences.
We can not change the past. It is unalterable. We can, however, make a choice to understand past within its own context and situation(s). We can even choose to learn from what we observe; and further, we can choose to repeat the past or not. What we ought not do is think that we are somehow better than those who preceded us. Rather, we are the same as they. We will make mistakes; make unwise choices and either accidentally or by design hurt those around us. But under no circumstance, will we alter or fix the past.