Clear thinking is needed, not knee-jerk reactions

Weyburn Review editorial

Every once in a while, people arrogantly think to take upon themselves the task of rewriting history, particularly the parts they don’t like or are offended by.

The concept these people are not understanding is that history is done, it’s in the past, and it cannot be changed. What you can do is to learn from it, and determine from those lessons to do better in the future.

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The playwright George Bernard Shaw observed wryly, “We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.”

One of the greatest scientific minds of the world, Stephen Hawking, made this observation: “We spend a great deal of time studying history, which, let’s face it, is mostly the history of stupidity.”

One of the great adages on this topic is that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

This is clearly a lesson that people who are currently trying to rewrite history are ignorant of.

There is a renewed effort by people to take down statues of people who offend them, and somehow by doing this we’re erasing their influence on modern times.

Most memes that one can find on social media are sarcastic or pointed comments on situations or on people, but once in a great while one gets posted that makes sense.

One such recent post said that it’s good if history offends you, because you can then learn from it. You don’t get to rewrite it for your own benefit, because it’s in the past and belongs to all of us. Therefore, the remaining thing to do is to learn from it.

In the current context, there is a concern sweeping the nation to stamp out racism, and in particular racism in the ranks of our police forces.

This is a worthy goal, certainly, but it ignores the fact that if there is in fact “systemic racism”, then it reaches far, far beyond the police, but into the realm of politics, education, health care, and every part of society.

If not, perhaps the glib term “systemic” is inaccurate, but is more true of some individuals who have racist bias, some more overt than others — but in every case, racism is wrong, because it’s assuming that people of a certain skin colour are somehow not as good as the “rest of us”.

There is value in taking a good hard look at the policies and practices of all of our institutions, and not to have a knee-jerk reaction like the suggestions to defund police forces. The criminal element would love nothing better than for law enforcement to have all of their power and strength removed so they can carry on their illegal activities without fear of legal reprisal.

We need to be honest with ourselves, and not be casting stones at other people from within our glass houses.

We need to remember the admonition, “Let him who has no sin cast the first stone.”