The past is a difficult topic for many people. Some have a glamorized view of it – turning it into something it never was. Some people do this because the past was very painful for them and so it’s their way of coping with that. And just as there are numerous people, they all have their reasons. Regardless of the reason, the past is a topic that touches a nerve for many people.
There are currently lots of debate about how to teach the past – especially in relation to race. Some argue that students should be a fuller view of history and teach about the impact of history on race, hear from different perspectives, etc. Others do not see it that way.
We have another debate going on in politics – how to talk about the recent past and what happened on Jan. 6 at the capitol. Some say we need a full investigation to know what happened, who was involved, and come up with recommendations to prevent it from happening. Others say we need to move on.
We have a debate about the last election – was their fraud or not and what counts for us to look at. What are the standards by which we look at a previous election – is it just the accusation of fraud without any evidence, or does there need to be more?
I remember when the Clinton impeachment was going on and how this same way of thinking was prevalent, just on different sides of the aisle – there were a group who wanted to investigate the past and see what happened, and others who wanted to move on. Looking at the past or avoiding it is obviously a bi-partisan thing – it just depends on who it benefits.
In a way, the Gospels are a look at the past – from four different perspectives. Much of it overlaps, but some does not.
People don’t always want to talk about the past and they have their reasons. Maybe they experienced some kind of trauma related to a past event. Re-examining it might trigger the trauma, compounding a traumatic event.
Maybe people avoid the past (or remember it differently) because exposing the truth might make people feel guilty of something in their own past. Some are afraid that they will have to deal with their own sins of the past if the real past is exposed.
And some may be afraid of talking about the past because they feel lost – not sure what to do with it, how to feel about it, etc. Mores and norms change over time. And as they change what we are called to and expected to be and do changes also.
I do know this – looking at the past in a way we want to, apart from reality isn’t always helpful and sometimes harmful. It can lock us into things and systems that are unhealthy. It can trap into abusive systems and exploitation. Are we avoiding the past in order to avoid dealing with our own hurt and pain? Are we avoiding it because we are concerned about our own guilt? Are we avoiding it because we don’t even know what we don’t know?
The past is not easy for many people to deal with. But it should be dealt with. It is only when we see reality that we can adjust and heal. We can move forward. We can thrive.