Thursday, June 13, 2024

The "Distant" Past

 Some perspective:

Time is a funny thing. When we look at big chunks of time, like decades, we tend to place it against our own personal histories to contextualize it, to make sense of it. But if that time frame is shifted just a step back, it is almost inconceivable. Try this on for size...
I graduated high school in 1981 - just 43 years ago, almost to the day. However, to even "remember" 1981, one would have to have been born around five years earlier - so, about 1976, our nation's bicentennial, coincidentally. I remember it well. That was all in the 40-45 year time frame ago. Many living today remember those days, it was "not so long ago." Of course, for many more, it was ancient history - the veritable stone-age. There were no personal computers, no internet, no cell-phones, no Fakebook, no electric cars, no streaming, etc. It was a time that only lives in history.
For those of us in 1981, walking across that stage, we were all born in the early 60s. But the graduating class 40 years before ours was... the class of 1941. They were graduating right smack-dab in the middle of WWII. Living in those times, for us walking that stage in 1981, was inconceivable. Those days lived only in history books and through the stories of not our parents - they were, for the most part, too young to remember
Why is this important? Because history books don't tell stories - we do. If our kids "don't understand us," it's not their fault, it's ours. It is our job to tell our stories of what the world was like, the good, the bad and the ugly - to reveal what worked, what didn't and why. Various versions of the quote, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," attributed to George Santayana in 1905, have been repackaged by many, including Winston Churchill, who said in a speech during WWII, "Those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it." That past is revealed through art, through stories, through our elders, by those who were there.
If our kids "don't understand," maybe it's because we aren't telling our stories anymore. Maybe it's because we are too busy passing judgement on who they are to spend any effort explaining who we are - who we were. Because, for them, 1981 was just as ancient as 1941 was to us.

1 comment:

Chris Dee said...

Good introspection Mike. Thanks.