By Dr. Terry Drew Kaaren
Are we destroying history? Monuments and statues symbolizing the Confederacy are being removed from public view in the United States at an increasing rate. Doesn’t this deprive our citizens of the memory of people who deserve to be remembered?
Those protesting the removal of these monuments and statues have confused a monument with a memorial.
Slavery and racism is not something to be celebrated. The monuments and statues in question glorify the murders, persecution and racism committed upon blacks and other non-white, non-Christian, non-heterosexual groups. They are monuments to racism, hatred and, ironically so, un-Christian acts by those who would claim to be followers of Jesus.
There is no glory is their acts. There is no reason to celebrate they they did.
As Rashid Robinson from Color of Change wrote on August 13, 2017, “White supremacists killed someone in Charlottesville yesterday. Friday night they marched through Charlottesville and the University of Virginia grounds, carrying torches that evoked a history of violent racial terrorism intended to intimidate a community that had recently renamed Robert E. Lee Park to Emancipation Park. It is past time that we nationally stop the veneration of people who committed treason in the name of slavery!”
White supremacists want to (literally) “white-wash” our history. Educators from this camp wish to rename slaves as “servants,” pretending the horrors of the slave trade never existed. The same has been done to the Native American indigenous populations for the past two hundred years, venerating whites while vilifying the conquered peoples who resided here before the European invasion. Recent immigrants and citizens of the United States, particularly in Hispanic or Muslim communities, continue to be objects of hatred by this same type of people.
American could well look to Germany as an example of how to remember history. Yes, there are Neo-Nazi groups in that country who continue to protest the remembrance of the Holocaust. But the country uses their memorials as a teaching tool to education the new generations of their past, vowing to never again engage as a nation in such deplorable actions.
Americans should do the same.
I belong to an organization with a desire to help foster “A World That Works For Everyone.” Sadly, one of my own colleagues, who apparently doesn’t agree with the organization promoting this, publicly taunted another colleague about recent white supremacist actions. “This is what you get in ‘A World That Works For Everyone,’” he wrote.
No. It is not.
It is what you get when groups and individuals promote a testosterone-driven, “I have to be right (literally) and you have to be wrong,” attitude. A world that works for everyone means that everyone in the world would never do anything that would harm others. It would mean that we would be willing to accept the truth and the facts, not continue to harbor prejudice, bigotry and hatred because it suits our own beliefs.
We are not there yet, but we are moving closer every day! This is NOT the time to be cowering in the shadows. People throughout the world are bombarded with bad news from both reputable and non-reputable media sources. But, there are also thousands of great stories out there of hope, love, compassion and cooperation. Promote these. Post these!
Hatred, racism, prejudice and bigotry are not inherent. They are taught, usually by religions or governments, or in so many cases, a collusion of the two. Muslims and Hindus lived together in peace in many places in India, until the British Empire created modern-day India and Pakistan. The “Dark Ages” were produced by a union of State and Church – the land barons provided safety in this life; the Church in the next life – which produced a very rich State and Church, and poverty for all others.
These are exciting and amazing times in which we live. Never before have we as a species been faced globally by a life-threatening situation that we can do something about. This is the time to stand up for peace, for cooperation, for love, and for understanding. It is the time to support leaders who can move us forward into a better world.
It is NOT time to sit around bitching, moaning, and complaining about what “they” should or shouldn’t be doing. And, there is one leader we need to support without fail in this effort for world peace. Who is that?
Look in the mirror. It’s up to you.
Terry is an author, speaker, licensed social worker and flight attendant. He is also the director of Spirit, Mind and Body Foundation.