One of the problems with de-emphasizing history in our schools is that children grow to adulthood with no perspective on life.
Too often we see people with no understanding of what life was like in any other period but the present. They make judgements that are totally out of the context of the issues and pressures of the time.
The result is that everything becomes simplified into today’s view of the world. The sacrifices are ignored and the mistakes highlighted. We forget how many parents watched their young children perish to disease that is today only a minor inconvenience. We forget the poor communications and harsh realities of survival. We are critical of past leaders of our nation because they didn’t rectify all the problems of society in their one (usually short) lifespan. We focus on the negatives in their lives and turn them into cartoon characters. George Washington becomes a slave owner with wooden teeth who chopped down a cherry tree. How could we have possibly named a city and a state after him? Abraham Lincoln sought to compromise on the subject of slavery in a failed effort to avoid the coming horror of a civil war. Why would we give him a monument and put his picture on our currency? Benjamin Franklin was a party person who probably took drugs. Banish him from the role of hero of the Revolution.
Our efforts to redefine history in terms of the present day focus on “politically correct” actions is eliminating our sense of honor and integrity as a nation and gradually tearing apart all of those who helped create and sustain our democracy. And surprise…we have found no one to replace them.
This has left our nation lost. We have been plunged into the chaos of a world where our children eschew the old emphasis on strength of character and morality, and have instead been taught through the new media to emulate the gangbangers, Hollywood celebrities and billionaires who offer material wealth as the new sign of leading a successful life.
We are taught to laugh at or ridicule a speaker who refers to things like “ideals”, “morals”, “honor”, “integrity”’ and “sacrifice”. He or she is referred to as naïve, or that worst of putdowns “a Boy Scout”. Instead, we flood our TV’s and internet with shows that highlight “egotism”, “greed”’ “violence” and “ignorance”. Our political candidates surge ahead by being the ones who say the most outrageous and divisive things.
We have become an angry, sad and frightened nation whose residents have lost all sense of what made us a great nation, and, instead, cringe behind the locked doors of our homes hoping the developing conflagration will pass us by.
I fear for our future. We have lost our perspective about our past and what we created that was so unique in the world. We crush the dreamers, ridicule those who see the best in us, and applaud those who have no soul. .
We do all this at our own peril, for we open ourselves to the siren songs of the “true believers” who would plunge the world into hatred and vengeance.
I am closing with a poem True Believers ( In the Cat’s Eye, Snap Screen Press, 2009). The world has been down this road before. I pray we are smart enough not to choose it again.
Glenn K. Currie
They wear their causes
Made from the cloth
Of cultural epiphanies
Or sacred decrees.
They march to words
Beaten into placards.
Written too large
The small surface
Of their hearts.
Their torches burn
At my windows,
To a society
They want to create
A new world,
Believes the same.
Where everyone knows
All the answers.