Erasing History? Not a New Concept
A disturbing proposal in recent political news has one Congressman insisting that all memorials to one of our nation's founding fathers be erased from existence. This is not only something posed by other radical factions over the past couple politically charged years, but something that has been done repeatedly throughout history. I wanted to take a look at this absurd idea, and dive into reasons why this could bring about nothing but trouble for not just America, but for the world. And I won't just look at it from the people group perspective, but all the way down to the individual.
First, let's look at examples in history where people tried to eliminate history. You don't have to look very far back in the timeline; and it doesn't have to be American history. But ISIS, when it was running amok across the Middle East, mainly in Iraq and Syria, held nothing back. If there were any kind of monument or memorial, whether to Christianity, or some historic figure who was not Muslim, the statues and memorials were obliterated. Although some things may have been former idols from the ancient past, some were simply monuments to represent where a people, or a group of people, or a church had come from. They were historical markers. Anything that told a historical account of events contrary to hadiths of Muhammad were destroyed; some of which had been geologically proven by archaeologists.
But that didn't matter; it was not something they wanted the people to see, and it reminded them of things they didn't believe in, so they destroyed them.
Let me clarify; I am not saying that we should never tear anything down. I am saying that we shouldn't remove all proof of existence just because it makes us uncomfortable. Sure; topple Saddam Hussein's statue, because let's face it - it was an idol to himself, and he terrorized his own people. But should we erase him from the history books? Of course not; we can learn from such horrible people, and the events surrounding their rise to power, and we can try to avoid similar circumstances in the future. Of course, history finds a way to repeat itself, doesn't it? Why do you suppose that is?
More on that later.
Let's go back in time in America. The Civil War happened. We know it happened. Tearing down some statues of some of the men that fought in it won't change that fact. Should they all be glorified? No.
But should all their statues be removed? Let's look at the surrounding circumstances, and the character of some of those men. If they thought they were doing what was right for their country, and didn't slaughter the innocent, but fought soldiers, I don't think we should just tear down their statues. Again, they represent history, and not everyone that fought for the South thought slavery was good. I have a book of soldiers' letters from both sides; soldiers' letters from the front lines of battle even.
Now, if it was some guy who rode through a town and burned everything and everyone, women and children and the like... we probably don't want to memorialize that person. (Hmmmm, reminds me of a Game of Thrones episode)
I digress; but you can see where this is going by just understanding basic history. World War Two, Hitler tried to eliminate all things Jewish, and eventually wanted to remove all signs that they ever existed. The Bolsheviks in Russia wanted to get rid of all-things-tsar after Nicholas II. The Vikings often moved through and chopped down the totems of rival groups. The Romans tore down everything and rebuilt by raising Roman statues in their place.
Nobody wants the sour reminders of things they are not proud of.
But isn't this something that is, essentially a human problem... for each and every one of us. It just so happens that some people can accept the past better than others. Some people can accept the fact that bad things happen, and get past it. Some people understand that if we do something wrong, we try to make up for it. We learn from it, and move on.
There was this guy named Jesus that understood that, and gave us the ultimate way to make up for our shortcomings; ALL our shortcomings.
Think about it. On an individual level, some people have a harder time forgiving and forgetting than others. Forgiving is something that Jesus told us was essential; yet we are supposed to hold an entire race responsible for the shortcomings of their ancestors? We need to remove any historical credit to men who devoted their lives to establishing a new, free, world? Did Thomas Jefferson, and others, own slaves? Sure.
But did they help bring about events that eventually led to the freedom of a nation, and freedom of slaves?
What if God held our sins against us? He almost took the hard line once - and flooded the planet. Yet He still gave us a way out, via Noah. But He could have easily erased evidence of our existence. Instead, He provided us with the only solution, through Jesus Christ. Without him, history would continue to repeat itself, over, and over, and over, forever - because humans ARE FLAWED; humans MAKE MISTAKES. That hasn't changed, and won't change, without the coming of Jesus Christ.
I mentioned Game of Thrones earlier. In the show, the Night King represents a force that aims to eliminate all memories, all evidence or signs of the realm of the living, and their kings, and their thrones. Had the Night King succeeded, that'd be the end of that show. But what, then, would make the Night King any better than the very corrupt kings and queens and nobles of the world of the living?
Unless we wish to condemn ourselves permanently for any of our failures in history, maybe we shouldn't be so quick to eliminate our historical markers. I understand wanting to remove some of it; it's nothing new.
But let's take our failures from the past, and remember some of them... so that we can know how far we have come.