Updated: Jul 8, 2020
by Sue Whitcomb
It can be hard to absorb the significance of a moment when we are in the middle of it. Right now, the great “before” is made up of all the things we took for granted. All we can do is live with the uncertainty of when we can get back to “normal.”
What if the point is that there will be no return to “normal” in the post-Covid19 world?
There is the weight of those we lost and those we may still lose to this disease. There is the added weight of the long-delayed and oft-denied acknowledgment that we do NOT yet live in a post-racist society.
When we look back on this time, my friends, how will we choose to remember it? How will we choose to memorialize it, commemorate it, honor the sacrifice of those lost in it or lost to it, and celebrate the ordinary people whose extraordinary actions inspired us as a nation?
What monuments will mark this monumental time? Will we sculpt statues that will be targeted by protesters in 25 or 50 or 100 years?
Or will we build the kind of monuments that endure? Are we capable of continuing to pay attention; are we strong enough – individually and collectively -- to create monuments that change us in profound ways?
I don’t have the answers. Like you, however, I have the ability to continue to ask the questions that matter as we move forward. What we remember and how we remember events is a choice we all make.
Consider that memory is not for the nostalgia we feel when we look at a statue or a plaque that recalls our past. Memory is a living thing that serves a purpose if only we are willing and able to see events from perspectives other than our own. We remember so that we can err on the side of compassion for our fellow humans instead of giving in, again, to our fears or self-interest. We remember so we can right the wrongs of the past, rather than repeating or reinterpreting our history. We remember so that the legacy we leave is a monument that stands the test of time.