For some, looking to the past summons up old memories of bad history teachers, and hopes that there is a place reserved for them in one of the circles of Dante’s Hell. To be deprived by boredom of the tools to study history may well be criminal, but certainly no greater than the tolerance of such ignorance by adults. Re-imagining the past is what we do of our own lives all our lives. If we are to attempt to look to the future with anything more than resignation as that which we cannot change, it behooves us to acquire both the taste and skill of re-imagining how we came to be where we are now.
Someone who has helped me in this task is Thomas Cahill. About his “Hinges of History” series of books, he writes:
"We normally think of history as one catastrophe after another, war followed by war, outrage by outrage — almost as if history were nothing more than all the narratives of human pain, assembled in sequence. And surely this is, often enough, an adequate description. But history is also the narratives of grace, the recountings of those blessed and inexplicable moments when someone did something for someone else, saved a life, bestowed a gift, gave something beyond what was required by circumstance."
When I thought of what I want this blog to do, I thought of
“The most alarming sign of the state of our society now is that our leaders have the courage to sacrifice the lives of young people in war but have not the courage to tell us that we must be less greedy and wasteful.”
The question for me is whether we now have the courage to say “No!” to the former and “Yes!” to the latter. As you have already seen from the words introducing this blog, his words set our course:
“The past is our definition. We may strive, with good reason, to escape it, or to escape what is bad in it, but we will escape it only by adding something better to it.”
Whether or not the past has been forced on us, or whether we helped to create it by our actions or inactions, this blog is one piece of how I want to add “something better to it”? I hope you will join me in this venture.