You don’t have to listen to many voices discuss history to understand that most only acknowledge anything prior to the European settlement of the Americas when it suits their purposes. Otherwise, every evil visited upon mankind began with European colonization. Almost all human history is full of ugly and violent behavior, and no group or civilization has been immune to the evils that infest the human heart. It is important to discuss the evils of the past so that we learn from the mistakes of our ancestors, not so we can assign blame in the present. We cannot change the past, and we shouldn’t live in the past. I am disgusted by just how ugly human history has been at times. Sometimes I wonder if we deserve to continue as a species. Usually when I am at my lowest, I glimpse some small glimmer of goodness or promise, and my spirit is renewed for a while.
I look at the world today, and I realize that we haven’t learned the lessons of the past. The evils that infect the human heart are as virile as ever. People are as petty and disgusting as they have always been. I look hard in the mirror and admit constantly that I am just as weak and ignorant as everyone else. I often question my own sanity. I seem to attract opportunities to prove just how flawed an individual I am. We think of the past when it is convenient or when it provides a rationalization for some current action. We repel it vehemently when its lessons mirror the reflections of our own hypocrisy. History isn’t our teacher. It is a tool we keep in our pocket so that we can whip it out when needed. The true purpose of history is to remind us to do better, to be better, to try harder to deserve the amazing gift that life should be.
We are getting close to the time when people will be making New Year’s resolutions. Many people will resolve to lose weight or get in shape. Some will resolve to quit smoking or drinking. Some people might even resolve to be a better parent, spouse, or friend. Almost every resolution will be forgotten by Groundhog Day. This year, why don’t we all try something different. Instead of making resolutions for the New Year, why don’t we make a year of resolutions. What if every morning, we woke up and resolved to be better people? What if several times a day, we all resolve to be a bit more patient and understanding? What if daily we resolved to show compassion and practice the golden rule? What if we resolved nightly to remember every single blessing we should be thankful for instead of waiting for a holiday to remind us? What if we resolved to never forget that for the entirety of human history, the brightest spots always originated in the hearts of individuals who bravely stood to face evil or to show kindness? What if we constantly resolve to live in the present, plan for the future, and apply the lessons of the past?
I don’t have the answers and honestly can’t even begin to imagine what that would look like. I have become so jaded that I can’t even dream of a better world. I look around and am heartbroken to see the world that my children will inherit. I look at my life and search for the lessons. I wonder if I did anything that made a difference or improved this world. Sadly, I know the answer. I know that politicians and governments are not the answer. I know that the change this world needs is inside of each of us. You can make a resolution that you will soon abandon, or you can resolve daily to be better a better person and think for yourself.
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