Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Why Is History Always Conveniently Forgotten?

I love history. Now that my age pushes me closer to 50 I realize that I now have history. Living through a few episodes on the world stage gives you a renewed and broader perspective on the present. With apologies to Dickens, it is never the "best and the worst of times." There is always something that is better or worse from the past.

Which brings me to a gripe with which I am currently wrestling. As we are all too painfully aware, the media with government in tow (or the other way around - I'm not sure), is pressing the panic button and invoking Chicken Little's fear. Every day with renewed layoff postings and business failures we are even more certain that the sky is indeed falling. We live constantly in the worst of times. Too bad the Great Depression Generation and those of the WWII era are dying off so quickly now. We need their perspective now more than ever. They could easily shame us into the realization that ours is by far a time unequally blessed. The few stories I remember from my mother and others is enough to keep me grounded in that truth. When did life suddenly become so horrible that we decided to bankrupt future generations in order to remove our temporary pain? Why are we whining so much these days?

In truth, ours is an 'a-historical' era, a problem that cuts across the field of human experience and is not limited to our current economic dilemma. Take the church, for example. Now I am certainly not a Pollyanna to be sure. It is apparent to me that much is amiss in our midst. Yet after reflecting recently at the Symposia about the infamous "walk out" in St. Louis, the great "Battle for the Bible," and all the issues broiling during the tumultuous 70's, I have a hard time convincing myself that all is lost in the Synod and the only choice is to abandon it and a complete failure. If ever there was a time to walk away I would have thought it to be then.

Perhaps you have a different view, and that's ok. My only plea is that when we analyze the present we spend a moment looking back from whence we came. Besides correcting the excesses of reaction, it may also hold hints of direction for the future. Could it be possible that those who came before may hold the solution to problems we face today? Could it be that we have already been down this road and the solution was already found? History is a road map we cannot afford to leave behind on our journey to tomorrow.

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