Friday, October 14, 2011

Why Remember the Old, Bad Memories?

For my capstone course, my group is researching the Balkan war(s) that took place in the 1990s. There is so much history here! Part of me loves how old the country is, and how rich a history these people have. Part of me resents them for being that old, because it’s a lot to learn about and write a paper about in a month! And part of me is saddened by all the painful memories these people have. “Issues” surfaced during WWI & II that dated back to the 1100s and 1300s, etc. That’s more than 600 years of bitterness held in the memories of these people! I’m blown away by that, first of all because our lovely nation isn't that old AT ALL, and secondly because why would you want to hold onto the bitterness and pain?

I have friends from Germany, and I had the privilege of visiting the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. with one such German friend. I asked him what history class in Germany was like, and he told me that the Nazi regime and the Holocaust are taught in schools to remember the mistakes that the country had made, but would not make again. I've heard that it is illegal in Germany to deny that the Holocaust actually occurred.

My question/thought/contemplation today is, why couldn't the Balkans teach their history lessons without adding bitterness and revenge to the mix? Isn't it possible, as Germany is demonstrating, to remember wrongs done by us and to us, and then forgive and ask for forgiveness and move on, vowing to not let history repeat itself?

My next thought is, will the United States be like Germany or like the Balkans in regards to our own mistakes? I’m thinking particularly of slavery, the Civil War, and racial equality. Will it be something that we teach our children, this is how we used to think, and then we learned this, and now we do things this way? Can it be like that? Or do we have to keep pointing racist fingers at each other, repaying the crimes of the past, and never moving forward in our future?

I’m reminded of the message my pastor gave to my MC class during one of our first weeks. He spoke about Potential, and how our expectations determine how much potential comes into existence. Can we expect that people can change and that we just need to forgive and live our lives? Thoughts, readers?

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