God has place this wonderful creation in our hands. As U2 sings, "It's a beautiful day, don't let it slip away." We have this one life to live on this beautiful planet so enjoy these reflections on God, faith, life, and music. "After the flood all of the colors came out. It's a beautiful day."

Friday, July 24, 2015

Heritage or History

Hinckley, Illinois
Hinckley, Illinois

As I have been taking my daily walk around town. I have noticed these poles, stakes. At first I thought that’s a little odd, a little random. Then I started wondering what they are for. Obviously not from a current era although in one case they are being replaced with a brand new one. It is kind of cool with its branch shaped pattern. But I stilled wondered why? There are not any horses or buggies to tie up. I haven’t seen anyone put a bicycle or dog tied to it. So they are now decorative rather than functional. 
Hinckley, Illinois

Hinckley, Illinois
During one of my walks as I looked on these I started thinking about history and heritage. What is the difference between history and heritage. Heritage according to the Merriam’s dictionary: “1.  property that descends to an heir; 2. a. something transmitted by or acquired from a predecessor :  legacy, inheritance, b. tradition; 3. something possessed as a result of one's natural situation or birth:  birthright.”  So one’s heritage is about tradition and inheritance. While history is: “1.  the study of past events, events of the past, past events that relate to a particular subject, place, organization, etc.” History is supposed to be the facts about the past.

How heritage and history intersect has been on my mind lately as we see the demonstrations over the confederate flag. As I watched the demonstrations last weekend in Charleston, they would interview a member from the klu klux klan and they would speak about how they were defending their heritage, the ancestors who died under this flag. But I wondered about their use of the word heritage, what it bring to this argument. Did they feel that when they placed their support of the confederate flag in a line of people going back for generations, some of whom fought and died in the civil war that this made their support of this racist, hateful symbol something different? By saying heritage were they trying to make me think that this was not about race, and the systemic discrimination faced by black Americans. By saying heritage was I supposed to say this is just the south and this isn't what you think it is. 

But the history of this flag and the klu klux klan are very different from an appeal to heritage. When I see this flag today if it is not in a museum, I see it as a sign of hate. When it was flying in dorm rooms in my college days it meant hate. When I see it on a truck, in a demonstration, on a house; it means hate to me. I see the live lost trying to make America a country where everyone is free. I remember the black lives that have been systematically lynched and killed, because they were black. I remember the parades and demonstration of hate against civil right. When you say heritage, I feel like you are ignoring history. While the flag may have been used during the civil war for uniting the south. We were fighting a war to end slavery and prevent succession. A war that didn't stop the discrimination and violence against black lives. This continued and when the flag reemerged as a symbol it was used by people to express their hatred of black lives. And while we try to rewrite history to express our personal beliefs there are facts that can be gathered that tell a different story, a different heritage. History matters when we forget history we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of our ancestors. When we selectively learn history, we leave people and places out that tell a different story of those same events. 

So when we talk of our heritage we need to remember the good and the bad. And sometimes we need to let go of a symbol of that heritage because of its effect on others. Our heritage does not give us the right to hate, to judge, to oppress another people. We need to remember our history, forgive our ancestors even as we never forget the wrongs, the hate that has left a scar and continues to lead to the loss of lives of people, our people.