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Friday, June 3, 2011

A Moral Imperative

There is a well-known adage, "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
This is so very true, and in many ways it would seem that humans in fact, do not learn from their own history. Rather, they prefer to bury and ignore uncomfortable images from the past and go merrily about their own lives with no sense of responsibility regarding their own roles in perpetrating new injustices and horrors.
Another time-worn saying bears repeating here to support that claim: "If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem." Some, of course are more part of the problem than others, being actual instigators. Next in line are those who jump on board, repeating the rants of the instigators without educating themselves first. No less guilty are those who stand by in full-blown apathy and denial, allowing whatever wrongs to occur, regardless of the fact that in their heart, they know the touted information to be false.
It bears mentioning that the reason we have so many trite and time-worn sayings is that they have a basis in truth. "The hen that cackles is the one that laid the egg," fits here in many instances. Many times, the person starting a campaign of hatred has something of the same nature to hide, and so to deflect attention from their own transgressions, they rant and rave and point fingers at others.
Back in March of 2010, I watched the first episode of the then-new NBC show, "Who Do You Think You Are?" It followed seven celebrities as they traced their ancestry to discover new things connecting them to past history. The premier featured Sarah Jessica Parker. Her maternal line traced back to New England, and specifically to the area of Salem with its infamous witch hunts and trials.
As my own family line is heavily rooted in New England, this was of great interest to me. Sarah discovered that one of her ancestors had the misfortune of being one of the accused in this travesty of justice. Luckily in her case, however, the complaint had been registered in the month following the abolition of the special (kangaroo!) court created expressly for the finding and condemning of so-called witches. All remaining incarcerated persons were then freed.
It got me to thinking, however: I searched for the history of the trials, and found a very good website having full history, explanations, court records, and so forth. Click here for the link to the specific article which inspired this post.
The thing that struck me with great force was the final sentence in the article:
"The witches disappeared, but witch-hunting in America did not. Each generation must learn the lessons of history or risk repeating its mistakes. Salem should warn us to think hard about how to best safeguard and improve our system of justice."
This is so, so true, and I have said so myself many times. When will we learn America? When will we stop with these 'holier-than-thou' persecutions of innocent people just trying to live thier lives in peace? When will we learn? It appears we have not yet learned!
I am, thererore, obliged to point out that there have been many, many parallels in our so-called "modern, enlightened" times. To wit:

  • the mistreatment, segregation and persecution of blacks until the "official" halt following the 1960's activism (not that the predjudice has ever ended!)
  • the McCarthy-era maddness of witch-hunting in the name of anti-communist activity
  • the current unfounded hysteria and predjudice against the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender) community
  • the "stranger-danger" paranoia that accuses, persecutes and ruins the lives of many innocent people on charges of child molestation that never happened...
....the list goes sadly on.

It is time for each and every citizen to stand up and accept their responsibility to insure a peaceful and harmonious society. The madness has gone on far too long.

No more witch-hunts!

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