When I was growing up I enjoyed learning about my family and listening to stories about times long before I came along. I had an Uncle who’s name was Ira Elder, he lived to be 103 years old and was mentally sharp as a tack! Boy did he have some great stories of what life was like when he was a boy growing up on a farm in rural Iowa in the late 1800’s! This was before his family enjoyed the luxuries of radio, television, electricity or plumbing in their home! He would talk about family picnics, reunions, fourth of July celebrations and ways that they found to entertain themselves. He shared about the hard work on the farm with horses and wagons! He always told these stories with such flare and detail that I wished I could see and experience them like he did!
I don’t think that I could ever fully grasp all that was going on during those times by listening to him or reading about it! Now I find myself enjoying documentaries of life at a different time and place, with different people who have contributed both good and bad to the shaping of what our lives are like today. Ken Burns documentaries have given me a broad look through the rearview mirror of our nation’s history. I have watched The Dust Bowl, knowing that my dad and his family lived in Kansas and experienced those “dark days” quite literally. Some of my favorites include: The Roosevelt’s: An Intimate History, The Civil War, The Depression, Prohibition, and The Men Who Built America!
These snapshots of the past don’t paint the full picture of the culture and all that was going on during those times but they do help us to learn if we are willing. There are “Altars of Remembrance” like timelines, statues, memorials, newspaper and magazine articles, awards, videos, audio recordings and so much more than can help us to celebrate good things and milestones! There are also some of these things that can also remind us of a path that we don’t ever want to go down again. It is EASY to judge those from the past for their failures because we weren’t in their shoes at the time these things were happening. We weren’t living in the heat of the moment when decisions had to be made and action was taken with the information that they had at that time!
There is alot that we can learn from conversations like this one:
-We will gain wisdom when we learn from the failures and successes of the past and learn that there is more to history than what we see. If we want to know the truth about the past we have to look beyond the surface to get the bigger picture.
-The phrase, “Hindsight is 20/20” is true and it’s very easy to judge the result of limitations or lack of the past based on the information and evidence available to us in the present.
-Learn to appreciate the good and the successes that we benefit from today with gratitude for those who worked hard or sacirificed to make them possible for us!
-Learn from those who made mistakes and experienced failures rather than judge them.
It’s important to have a respect for history (the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful) and take the opportunity to learn from the past both now and for future generations! Here's how:
Always Search for the Truth!
Think of a time in history that you struggle with (maybe it’s personal family history or a period of time in America) and do some research with a teachable heart and open mind.
Don’t Judge the People of the Past - Learn from Them!
Apply What You Have Learned & Be The Change You Want to See!
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Hindsight is 20/20! One day, those who will come after us will see our mistakes and failures. Some will judge us and some will learn from us, but more than anything I pray they don’t make the same mistakes that we did in the here and now!