Why it's important to remember the past

There are some dates we should always remember such as your child’s birthday or your wedding anniversary. Dates like these are important to acknowledge and celebrate. They mark happy moments in our lives. Our city turns 150 this year. That’s worth celebrating as a community. There are also the dates that commemorate loss and difficulties. Horrible acts in history even, such as Pearl Harbor Day, and especially relevant this week, 9/11. This is such a deeply rooted element of our culture, to remember. But why? Why celebrate a milestone that happened 150 years ago or something that is painful and a dark spot in our history?

There are at least five reasons that come to my mind. The first reason to remember, and especially when it comes to loss, is honor. We remember to honor those who represent the best human qualities in the face of terror and horror. We remember to honor those fallen, for those who survived them still feel the loss. And, we remember to honor those who continue on and hold a torch of the ideals and courage we strive for.

We remember so that we can learn from the past. Change is inevitable, yet patterns repeat. We must learn from past experience. What worked, what did not. Even at an individual level, recognizing how far we have come is an important part of maturity, and that applies at a community level as well.

We remember as a way to demonstrate gratitude, and to cultivate it. There is a saying that I love, “gratitude makes what you have enough.” It can be easy to get caught up in a more, more, more mentality. Grounding ourselves in where we come from can shift our perspective in a positive way, alleviate undue pressures, and remind us that we are enough.

We remember to fight complacency. Like the frog in water slowly rising in temperature, it can be challenging to look up from the daily grind and take notice of where we have become complacent. Who hasn’t taken stock of their life at a milestone birthday, graduation, or retirement? We avoid conflict, we don’t want to rock the boat, or we may fear standing up against the current of what has become normal. Our country was founded by the idea that things could be different. Complacency can be dangerous. We remember so that we are willing to stand up for our beliefs.

Lastly, we remember to uphold principles. Not everyone’s opinions and beliefs align. And that may be putting it lightly. We have a mixing pot of backgrounds, experience, cultures, religion and desires. Remembering the good, bad and the ugly of our past can give us some common ground. It is often in difficulty and the overcoming of difficulty that we come together to spite our differences. When we begin to strip down to our basic principles and needs, we find much unity than discord.

At this time of remembrance for our country, I encourage you to take note of the things in your life, and beyond, worth remembering. Honor them, hold gratitude, and use them to strengthen your sense of self.


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