By John Oglevie
George Santayana said, ‘Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ We all know this phrase. No one doubts the truth of this phrase. It is these words that haunt me when I visit any site that bears witness to an avoidable human catastrophe. But knowing the big events of history, the easiest most available information about historical events, is not necessarily the key knowledge to preventing their repetition. However, taking a tour of a museum or holocaust site will tell you much about how these catastrophes were born. Without fail they have all started in small places and within small groups. Then have grown over time to become the horrors we know them as today. But, there is only so much time to visit memorial sites and who these days has the time to research the details of history?
I think the better watch words to use as a guide these days are those of John Stuart Mill. ‘Evil will triumph if good men do nothing’. Our best chance of stamping out evil is at the very beginning when words and actions that happen casually in our presence seem harmless. If it is true that silence is validation of the status quo, then something else besides silence needs to happen. What we need to do is something at that very moment that is appropriate, respectful, but clearly signals our disagreement.
We do know when we see or hear something that does not make sense. Something that violates our ethics, morals, and our common sense. These days I see, hear, and read many things that worry me. I am sure each of you has too. But in most cases I will stay silent because it involves a friend, a family member, or a community member and so what harm can it do to let it go? Well the little things have been building for a while now in our community, our state and our country. They have become large enough that they are causing real harm.
Now more than ever before in our lives, if we see or hear words or see actions that diminish, belittle, intimidate or cause division among our citizens, find a way to bring them to the attention of those around you and resist them. Find a way.