History is a growling beast lurking in the haze of collective memory and forgotten secrets, which were never secrets, at all. It (mostly) exists out in the open, if you know where to look.
I’ve been familiarizing myself with the history of my local area, and it certainly comes with some revelations, and also a lot of parallels to today’s state of affairs. The more things change, the more they stay the same describes it pretty accurately. But you can not assume it was any particular way based upon what I’ve written here. You’d have to have been here, or be here now to see what we see, in order to understand. Many of these revelations are disheartening, though I suspect they are some of the reasons we were brought back here so abruptly.
History is a tapestry of rainbows, dazzling the eye with gleaming color, while dark and spotted in some places, and worn down and frayed in others. The frayed parts can be mended, and the stains can be washed clean– to a point. There will always be those visible reminders of the worst of times, yet we must let those reminders be our memorial to the washers and the menders.
Reading these accounts, connecting with the Land which bore witness to these triumphs and atrocities, leaves me with a changed outlook and a renewed sense of purpose. When I put myself into their shoes, the shoes of the Dead who walked this Land before me, I know that it was mere luck of the draw that had me born into this era rather than that era (or any other era), and I imagine the type of changes that could have been affected by one of the indomitable (if not physically, at least in spirit) persons from that era being born in this one. It motivates me to affect a comparable change, so that our descendants may focus on the great injustices of their own time, leaving ours to the debate halls and history texts.
History must be put into its proper context. I’ve found that I can not have one side without hearing another, and the broader truth paints an image more awesome and complex than anything I’ve read on the subjects which interest me. I’ve also found that those who have gone before desire to be remembered, and to have their stories told. There are lessons in the lives of the downtrodden and dispossessed, with much hard-won knowledge to be found.
So, I walk in their shoes, tracing their steps, feeling their aches and pains. Soothing, easing, learning to mend and to wash. This is what they tell me I’m here for, and that it is necessary for our community. We don’t want to repeat the same mistakes, or be swept up in the same kind of hysteria. We must overcome our past, and refuse to be enslaved by it.