Ben Wright | July 17, 2017

How long must a grievance, disappointment, lingering anger, or hurt endure?   Will there ever be a closure on whatever distress, anguish, resentment, or complaint we may have?   What does it take to try and make things right?   When should something be forgiven -- or, hopefully even forgotten?

This seems particularly poignant when reflecting on the many opposing view points regarding the earlier ante-bellum South -- both before and after the American War between the States.

Now more recently, there is a renewed resurgent effort in various areas of our Country -- especially in former Confederate States of the South, to remove any and all famed monuments and memorials from public access places of notoriety or prominence, any past persons or military leaders who fought and struggled valiantly for their earlier considerations in that titantic encounter.

Such edifices apparently keeps re-awakening to some, persistent ghosts of the past as prior symbols of hatred, brutality, prejudice, and involuntary bondage, that to such persons:
These contemptuous placements should not be honored, glorified, respected, venerated, or esteemed in any civil or other formal manner whatsoever.

It is felt that maybe some part of this demonstrated activity can perhaps be attributable to constant changing demographics -- wherein the earlier citizenry and generational residents of given areas, felt a loyalty and long kinship of heritage to their regions encouraging them to respect and recognize such earlier personages as worthy of the fame, distinctions, and deserving credit due them from those regional aspects.

Now more recently, perhaps because of continuing dramatic population shifts from outside such previously affected areas, newer inhabitants don't seem to particularly share such honored aspirations and would appear to want earlier contrary visions erased, diluted, and replaced with different versions that contrast with the earlier state of living that then existed.

To those who might disagree with more widely publicized conceived notions and assessments to the contrary, they suggest one can't just arbitrarily trash and throw away any such earlier historical memorials that have been in placement for generations, just because they may perhaps be offensive to some.   These are authentic artifacts that express and denote a previous era in history that actually happened, and just disliking it won't make it go away.

Yet in reply, it may be reasonably argued why continue to embrace and display that which is a continued reminder of a sordid era in our history that violated the most basic rights of human dignity, and therefore, by what measure can proper respect, honor, and admiration be given to those who admittedly fought bravely for an assortment of reasons, but also in doing so, included the preservation and a continuation of a merciless system of involuntary servitude and the disastrous consequences it caused?   Leaving us with a myriad of contradictions.

Even so, there may be some suspicion that some few vocal minorities of deep racial prejudice and desired systemic racism, would prefer these historical edifices remain as a more visible symbol of their continued defiance and resistant challenge to think otherwise.   Perhaps it's best to deny them the confrontation and celebrity they seemingly desire.

However, what seems to worry some, is if we start prejudging selective areas of factual history as to who and what cannot be publicly remembered and eulogized, not only could it seem a serious infringement on the rights of free speech, but could quickly escalate into a deep well of regrets, embarrassments, confusion, paradoxes, and contradictions.

Least we forget -- many other famous personalities -- both before and after the War between the States, now widely honored and frequently publicized throughout America and held in equally high regard today, also crossed bounds of questionable conduct and behavior -- as would be evaluated in current modern society.

There's simply no escaping the fact that many of our earlier founding Fathers were holders of people in bondage -- over three-fourths of the signers of our Declaration of Independence were slave owners, and numerous succeeding others of both myth and legend of later eras were unfairly cruel, deceptive, subjugated, and harsh to both Native Americans, and foreign immigrants as well.   Some leaders in history regretfully go down further than others.

That's not to take away in any form or fashion from the notable achievements and accomplishments of such paradoxical others and their many praiseworthy and memorial activities, but to also remind all of ourselves of the human frailties and errors of misjudgment in us all.

We cannot change the actualities of history through misguided or opportunistic revisionists.   What happened -- happened, as we live with the results and consequences.

In doing so, it helps greatly to continually remember that the significant events and those notable persons prominent and conspicuous throughout the flow of history, cannot be easily viewed and judged through the auspices of our modern mores and cultural understandings.

Such prior times are better understood in the eras that then existed, and acknowledging the specific traditions, customs, beliefs, and practices common and established in such environmental earlier times then occurring and doing whatever was specific to their particular cultural, society, place, or period of time.

Besides, aren't we fractured enough in present American society without opening old wounds and rekindling old arguments generating a need to resurrect old animosities and hostilities that only hastens and further divides us as a Nation confronted with swarming hosts of many present problems and challenges that will need the joint support and united actions of us all?

Let's try and focus on the inspired hopes of what a beneficial future can be for us all -- as each struggles to be more of what they have in them to be.   That is what united is all about.

If we continue in the alternative -- choosing by choice to live lives of distressed misery and anguish, constantly agonizing over past historical wrongs and injustices -- possibly as an excuse for more limited accomplishments in the present, such persons will always be in the throes of mental and emotional despair -- losing all ruining hope of a forgiving nurturing life of promise and achievement.

Living in a confining prison of self-imposed emotional wrath, rage, anger, and fury cananot undo what has already sadly been done. There have since been many historical and more current remedial efforts and appropriate laws promulgated that openly declares and proclaims by its nature an apology to that which has happened, and attempts to restore as much as possible of that which was lost.

But we all know laws of conscientious due-diligence can only codify that which is legally and illegally acceptable and non-acceptable.   They cannot always and often will not please those so affected.   People choose what they like or dislike.

Yet, no matter how sincere the intent nor how generous the effort at restitution, there will no doubt always be some -- on all sides of any given controversy, who will remain stubbornly steadfast, aloof, resentful, offended, and never accept nor agree with such pardoning efforts -- no matter how noble the intent may be with incompatible emotional images or unrealized distortions that can maybe never be fully satisfied.

To those of such persuasions, one can only offer sincere regrets, sympathy, and compassion for their continued distress -- mourning their loss in our forgiveness for their sad unhappiness and perplex confusions in their forlorned perceived victim status as neglected persecuted beings relating to times long ago.


Back to Lew Wallace