The Memory of Our Failures
“The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.”Ralph Waldo Emerson
One would hope that on the 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz, and a week before the start of Black History Month meant to honor the legacy of a people who built a nation under chains and whips; that we would have learned from history.
But no, we forgot so easily. Some are content to give air cover to bigotry and hatred, justify children in cages, and make virtue of greed and materialism. The idea that the “Other” is outside of a “Great” culture and sullies our exceptionalism persists. Even after it seemed we had silenced hate, a struggle paid for by countless bodies, marches, arrests, beatings, and wars.
True exceptionalism is embodied by our ability to remember ALL of our history. To stare the ugliness in the face. To taste the bitterness of horror and acknowledge the miscarriage of justice on those unwillingly tasked under a brutal southern sun. That the embracing of all of these failures of our collective humanity can render a map to a more hopeful future.
Cynicism is easy, you simply point out the issues without offering any solutions. Tearing down a house is always quicker than building it. Every holiday, every monument, and every history lesson we give should lead with the remembrance of our failures. The way Germany requires that students learn from the Nazi horrors so that as a nation they will not repeat them.
We must stretch our minds to learn the uncomfortable truths and expand the cannon of our knowledge, so we can build something better. We must challenge those who wish to raise doubt in what is truth and what are facts. We have to learn from our failures.