Remembering the past

The author below moans that we rarely remember the mistakes of our ancestors or the social and economic plight of minorities, two things that he asserts are interwoven. That the most persecuted minority of all -- Jews -- flourish mightily in social and economic  matters, he does not take into account

He notes that we do occasionally remember the war dead of our communities and wonders why we don't remember the past deaths and suffering of minorities too.  He asserts that we have actively suppressed our memories of the latter.

I have a much simpler and less conspiratorial explanation for him:  indifference.  Most of us spend some time thinking about our own past but the past of people unrelated to us rarely gets a thought.  We all have our day-to-day concerns -- with relationships, work etc -- and that is where our mental energies are directed.  Even when we do take note of community history, it only happens as a formal ceremony lasting a few minutes a year.  We have to be MADE to think about the pasts of others

The author below has an obsession with the past but I think he will have to come to terms with the fact that few others share his concerns.  The plight of some minorities is no doubt a worthy cause but I can't generate any personal concern about it.  As Jesus said: "Let the dead bury their dead" (Luke 9:60).  Let minorities make the effort to uplift themselves.  Most minorities in our countries do: Jews, Chinese, Japanese, Indians etc.  Those four groups are in fact high income earners on average.

So why is the author below so concerned about the less successful minorities?  That's easy.  Its just part of the guilt trip that the Left are always trying to inflict on us.  They are themselves hate-filled and want others to hate along with them.  They are anti-patriots -- unhappy people who resent the success of others and the general flourishing of their countries  They want other people to hate their country the way they do and plague us with tales about our evil past to that effect.  It's a sad obsession

A bell rings, and the playground falls silent. Some of my classmates clasp their hands behind their backs in earnest attempts at commemoration; others glance around furtively. I stand like a toy soldier, crumpled cardboard poppy pinned to my lapel, trying to conjure memories of trenches in which I have never stood.

It’s the 11th of November—Remembrance Day in the U.K., Armistice Day in France and Belgium, and Independence Day in Poland. I’m only seven years old, but the nation in which I live wants me to remember the 20 million people, including over one million Britons, who died in the First World War.

Compared to this riot of remembrance, Europe is conspicuously silent about its colonial past. In the U.K., the dark history of the British Empire is overlooked in schools. There is no day of remembrance for those who died as a result of British colonialism. When Black Lives Matter protesters argue that “Silence is Violence,” this is what they mean: national memory, curated by the state, is tight-lipped about colonial atrocities—despite European colonialism claiming 50 million lives in the 20th century alone.

“There’s clearly a big gap in memory,” says Aline Sierp, Associate Professor of European Studies at Maastricht University, and co-founder of the Memory Studies Association. “And there’s this big problem of amnesia when it comes to the role European states and European people played in colonialism.”

“In World War I, it was clear who were the victims and the perpetrators. It’s the same with colonialism, but European states aren’t used to seeing themselves exclusively as perpetrators. We still don’t remember the colonial project as something inherently European, which came with blatant human rights violations.”

The scale of those violations is difficult to comprehend. Ten million dead in the Belgian Congo; 35 million in British India. The Spanish conquest of South America resulted in an estimated 56 million deaths, including several million from European diseases brought to its shores. Such suffering merits remembrance for the same reason we remember war: to ensure it never happens again.

So why does Europe remember casualties of war while forgetting deaths in its ex-col­onies? Professor Santanu Das, author of India, Empire, and First World War Culture, is a leading voice in First World War studies, specialising in the memory of colonial troops. He believes it’s not possible to commemorate colonial deaths as we do for the war.

“Even though we accept the horrors of the war and the unprecedented loss of lives, the stories of camaraderie and endurance nonetheless have the power to inspire us— and so the images of the doomed generation come to us today with a sort of romantic glow,” he says.

“There is nothing of the sort in memories of colonialism. What we have are images of exploitation, and ideologies based on racist discrimination—and this retrospective embarrassment, awkwardness and anger.” If Europeans wish to commemorate colonial victims, the Remembrance Day framework of poetry, poppies and pan-European romance won’t work.

1 comment:

  1. I agree, our mental energies mostly concern themselves with present relationships and matters and we are often made to think about the past. Clever people at different points of their lives also plan for the future. I am a late bloomer in that regard. But for whatever reason I am able to gain access to information which I can use to glean my near future. The information is like a sculpture which lacks detail but it is clear enough to see what it is. Outlandish? I suppose so.

    A month ago, December 18th, I had already been aware of that particular date for several months. I had assessed that a rather large sum of money was going to appear, so I bought a lottery ticket since there was no other magic wand available. Another bit of information, I was allegedly going to start renovating my house again in the late spring/early summer of 2021 and wondered how that could be, I was low on resources after the last project. It did not seem likely. The lottery ticket was a bust, no surprise there so I thought the sudden windfall was probably a bust too and only minutes after the phone rang.

    It was my uncle, said my father has passed away from cancer and revealed that he had been struggling with alcohol for quite a while. I did not know about this since we had barely been in touch since my late teens. Regardless, I did not expect him to die at the age of 66. But this is not about our relationship.

    What is the point of the story? Well, it is a simple story as luck would have it. Sometimes the way forward can be quite unexpected, but there is indeed a way forward even when it seems like there is not.


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