“[We] are all blinded by the past.” – Battlestar Galactica
I won’t get into what Battlestar Galactica is or isn’t, but during the current episode that quote came out. It summarized the theme of the show, and struck a chord in my body. Those seven words sum up all my problems to this point in my life. Every person I’ve come into contact with is neatly tucked away in my brain, all to readily available for me to draw upon. Most of the memories are not good ones for me. Previous lovers, breakups, people not talking to me, situations where I made (big) mistakes, and memories of how I used to be (slim, muscular, etc).
I’m living my life in the murk of these memories. I can’t escape them, and the more time passes, it truly does seem like they are in front of me and it’s all I see. Every time I set out to change a part of my life, I search for the motivation and confidence within me, all that comes up is the past. When I think about working out, I’m not thinking about how great it will be to be in shape again. Instead, my thoughts retreat back to how badly I screwed up to let my body get out of control, or how all my previous attempts to get back on track have been failing. I think about looking for a new job, but it scares me. I haven’t had a real job interview in person since I was in junior high (over ten years ago). All my jobs have either been giving to me because I knew people, or I’ve had a few phone interviews – I’ve only had one true phone interview though, and it was a disaster. I can’t focus on how well things will go for me, just the disasters that have happened in the past.
But apart from me learning how to deal with my issues and find the lost confidence in my mind, I started thinking about how the rest of society is effected by that statement. Our society really fetishisizes history: our family’s, personal, civilizations, animal, even to mundane things like the history of our actions on computers and internet (logs). The Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, Mayans… when we think of those civilizations, we think of all the positive things they have done for our current world and fantasize about what life would be like during those time periods. We have museums to remind us of things past, helpful reminders on how maybe we should be living our lives. There are sports halls offame , so we can show our grand-children the heroes of our days, the role-models for the kids – setting aside the drug addictions and alcoholism for the moment to focus on the legendary skills they possessed. All our web browsers have the capability to move backward in time to see what sites we looked at, or the others using the computer did. We look through web site’s histories to see what had been written before, see if it’s any better/worse than the current stuff, find the stories that apply to the current thread. The examples could go on forever.
Is the majority of our society blinded by the past and only lets the visionaries (a minority) guide us into the future, or do we all have the capacity to be visionaries and move our entire world forward in one action? What would happen if we loss the chains of the past – all those reminders of previous actions we should avoid? Would we repeat history if we had no history to compare it to?
I’m not going to argue about the reasons why we should study and be concerned with the past, because our world is full of cliches and information on why we should. We all do it already, so no explanations are really necessary. But the reasons for ignoring the past our little, as far as I know. Perhaps I’ll write more about it later, without drawing examples out of this post.