Learning from history so that we don’t repeat it

Learning from history so that we don’t repeat it

I was sorting through some Europe photos and had a queasy moment when I got to Dachau in light of the last 18 months but especially the last week.

The German guide (pictured on left) we had was very good at explaining the context of the time and even read some newspaper quotes from editorials of Jews at the time who were defending most Germans as good people and saying that the worst would never happen and taking it on themselves to make it better by being good citizens. We came away feeling a lot of empathy, compassion for everyone involved but also an aching awareness of the train wreck that can happen when things start to snowball out of control and we as human beings do things to others that we would never have imagined.

I’m humbled to be living in the context that I am in.

As many monuments all across Europe say, forgive but never forget.

No person and certainly no society is infallible and incapable of falling.

Our greatest lessons come from history and we must know it, warts and all.

I admire the way the German people have learned this better than most and are now often more of a shining light than the former allied nations.

History is how you get where you are, it’s not who you are.

Inside Dachau
Inside Dachau

I hope those in the USA who are protesting the removal of confederate statues know that where they’ve come from isn’t who they are, it isn’t their identity and it shouldn’t determine who they will be.

History, especially the ugly parts, is something to be remembered but not revered. It’s irrational and unhelpful to take pride in the ugliest parts.

If we’re going to be the flourishing species that we truly can be then we have to be a species of progress not regress. We need to be a species that values compassion and critical thinking. We need to be a species that recognises it’s part of a global (or galactic) community, we are the stewards of our planet and our future is in our hands.

Let’s remember the past while we walk, or run, forward into a better future.

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