Monday, July 30, 2007

The Past vs. the Present vs. the Future

So New Haven is involved in an educational program about slavery in New England.


Why?


Sure, there's historical information involved, but it seems silly to focus on the past when you need to be dealing with the present and preparing for the future.

I think everyone can agree that slavery was a bad thing. I also think it's safe to say we don't have to worry about that happening again (unless of course you're talking about the free world being enslaved by radical Muslims).

Look at New Haven -- the present stinks and the future doesn't look any better, so why put forth effort and resources into recalling the past?

I think I'm extra leery because I've heard too many people using slavery to excuse bad behavior around here. I've been told that things like rampant illegitimacy, drug use and crime are all effects of slavery.

But I don't buy it, so I bristle whenever the subject is raised.

Sure, 50 years ago I might have even bought it. But my views are based on what I see, and since the day I was born I've been on equal footing with people of all races. I've gone to integrated schools, lived in diverse neighborhoods ... and the only disparities I've seen are in the way people behave.

At this point, the crutch has to be kicked out, and people have to realize that if their life sucks, it's because they're not trying hard enough. Opportunities are there; in fact, in some cases there are more opportunities specifically for the people claiming to be the most downtrodden.

I can't follow it -- if there is a possibility that someone in your family 5 or 6 generations ago was a slave, how does that affect your ability to not have children you can't afford, out of wedlock with multiple men who don't take care of them? What does it have to do with whether or not you go to school every day?

I've seen people of all races make something of their lives, and they weren't extra-special. They simply did what people were supposed to do. That's pretty much all it takes now. You can make it in this country without even knowing the language.

I just wish more emphasis was put on making a better tomorrow instead of talking about yesterday, because that isn't going to help.

1 comment:

elvis said...

Al, you are sweeping too broadly. The past is the tool with which we interpret the present and shape the future. We must put effort into studying the past, lest we fulfill the cliche and repeat ... You are bothered by people using the past to excuse current failings. That's a universal human behavior, but another thing entirely.

I am reading a history of World War II at the moment and am amazed daily by the way it illuminates current world crises.

Just for the record, I've never heard anyone use slavery as an excuse for not making it to school every day. =)