Stories of the Past Matter
By Erica and Karen
Hamilton reminds us of the importance of making history come alive. When you are transported back to the room where it happened--whether Independence Hall, the Oval Office, Versailles or Gettysburg--we gain a depth of understanding that hindsight alone cannot supply.
When history comes alive, the participants’ motivations become less sharp and more ambivalent. The debate becomes less binary and more nuanced. Progress isn't a quick fix or a straight line, but incremental change with ups and downs along the way. And courage, seen up close, can blow your socks off when you realize the act was taken just because the actor thought it was the right thing to do.
Stories that make history real give us a better appreciation for the messiness and complexity of times past (and present). Everything comes alive in living color. We see that black and white, easy labels, don't fit as easily as we might otherwise think. And, perhaps most importantly, we become acutely aware of how much our history depends on the character of the people to whom our future was entrusted, their empathy, their ability to see other points of view, and their willingness to compromise for the greater good.
Having a collective appreciation for our past ensures that we grasp the fragility of the foundation on which we all live, and its need for constant care and reinforcement. It also reminds us that, as we create our own history for future generations, we too must ensure that men and women of good character will be in the room where it happens.