***The Dialectics is an exciting new section of Classical Wisdom. Taken from our weekly newsletters, it delves into the discourses our Classical Wisdom community is having about ancient and modern topics. The idea is to use our knowledge of the ancient world, as well as the logical and philosophical methods at our disposal to investigate important issues, whether they are current, theoretical or ethical.
Feel free to contribute to the conversation in the comments section below. We only ask you address the ideas, and not the people. This isn’t a space for ad hominem approaches.***
I thought I had it all figured out. I thought it was simple. I was wrong.
You see, I’ve always believed strongly that we just need to teach history so as not to repeat past mistakes. “Lest we forget” and all that. The dark, dirty secrets that had been swept under the rug should be brought out, and under the bright, honest and searing light, seen for what they really are. Genocides, dictatorships, corruptions, illegal detentions and internments… There’s no country in the world that doesn’t have a few nasty skeletons in the closet, a fact many have still not accepted.
And I thought that they all should… but a conversation over the weekend gave me considerable pause for thought.
I was speaking with a young South African about the recent violent murders of farmers. Now, I won’t get into the grisly details or delve deeper into this subject which is hugely controversial in and of itself. Suffice to say, it got me thinking about my aforementioned ‘certainties’.
History has long been used as a tool to inspire movements, both good and bad (indeed, many articles on Classical Wisdom have been dedicated to Tacitus and German nationalism).
But are there times when bringing up past events only makes matters worse? Can it open wounds and not allow healing? Are there moments when it would be best forgotten so folks can move on?
To put it more succinctly: can history incite hate? And should it, for peace and the good of the nation, be censored at times?
As usual, you can write me directly at [email protected] or comment below with your thoughts on history, revenge and nationalism…