by Carolyn Trower

The past is murky, swirling with facts, documents, historical papers, and tons of personal memoirs. What is the truth? Who do you believe? What do you believe?
It’s not just government and political issues that snare us in this web of half-lies and good intentions. Our personal histories are just as opaque. How many times have you seen a picture or a letter, postcard, or event flyer and thought, “I forgot about that.” Memories flood your mind and fuzzy images come into focus. Often as not, the memory doesn’t match the photo. The longer the time between, the more questionable the “truth.”
Reliving the past can bring us pleasant memories and urge us to share the stories with our loved ones. Or it can dredge up hurtful memories and keep old wounds raw and bleeding. Personally, I prefer to house my hurtful memories in the back of my mind, not forgotten, but not part of my everyday life. We can definitely learn from past mistakes and sorrows, but I think the best thing to do is to go forward, a little more cautious perhaps and wiser for the lesson.
It’s been said we need to learn history, so we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past. Looking around the troubled world today I wonder if we aren’t forgetting some of those lessons. Maybe it’s just that although things are better, they aren’t better fast enough. Patience isn’t evident in many press conferences or meetings.
Everywhere we look we’re reminded that the world is on the edge…now. The polar caps are melting, the immigrants are at the door, and the young people are rioting and demanding change…now.
Where is the time to think, to sift through those past mistakes and events and come up with a new solution? When are our leaders taking time to meet civilly with one another and hammer out an answer that benefits the countries on the fringe as well as those who are in control? Who is taking the time to talk to the young people and urge them to use their energy and their skepticism for the long term?
I like the present, I like the optimism and life surging forth on so many fronts. I like the energy that surrounds us as we start each day with a fresh perspective.
The past is filled with “We’re all going to die!” times. And sometimes we did. But most of the time we didn’t. We took a deep breath, shook off the ashes of tragedy and catastrophe, and went forth to slay the next dragon.
We will get through this twisted view of life that fills our screens and our papers now. I believe that out of the chaos will come sanity and reason and we’ll put the country and the world back on track. I just wonder how the historians will portray the struggles of this time in our history and, more importantly, what lessons the future generations will take from our actions today.