My Very First Christmas Column
A Poem about Parents

More on the Past

Robert Malchman commented on The Past and What Is Life, an item of dueling quotes. It turns out the issue of “do we need to know about the past” or “the past is a dead letter” arouses passion.

“I cannot tell you how much I disagree with the first quotation. Understanding the past is absolutely critical to being the best we can in the present. At an individual level, understanding why one reacts as one does (hint, it often relates to past emotional trauma) is essential to reacting appropriately to what is in front of us *now*, as opposed to what was in the past, but unresolved.

“At a macro level, I subscribe to Santayana's view that those who do not learn from the mistakes of the past are condemned to repeat them. To give one current example, to understand race relations and the scope and effect of institutional racism today, one has to understand the history of slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, the civil rights struggle, the legislation of the 1960s, Nixon's Southern Strategy, dog-whistles from Reagan and the Bushes, and the megaphone of Trump. I agree with Faulkner: The past is not even the past.”

If I may oversimplify Rob Nelson’s book Hacking Reality: Upgrade Your Life From the Inside Out, he says, among other things, that many of our emotional reactions of today are not reactions to the events of today, but to events of the past. He offers some therapeutic techniques to resolve unresolved issues. In short, he agrees with Robert.

So, it seems to me, if the past calls, maybe you should answer. While it may have nothing new to say, it may offer some useful explanations.


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