How many times a day do we say, “Now where did I put that…?” Referring to anything from our car keys to those keys to happiness with which we once began our adulthood. Memory is a funny, fragile and fantastical thing; yet there is still so much about it we don’t understand. Either as a person or as a nation.
As a person, our memories are part of our consciousness. If they suddenly vanished, we could no longer summon up the touch of our mother’s embrace, the confidences of our closest friends, that first fragrance of their hair on your midnight shoulder. Without memory, who would we be…? What would become of what we know as self…?
As a nation, our collective memory is what allows us to feel part of something bigger, more significant than simply making it to work this Monday morning. George Santayana wrote: “A country without a memory is a country of mad men.” A feeling I get almost every time I meet a dis-informed student, a reckless politician, or an angry march.
There are document-able ways whereby we can lose our personal memories. Strokes and Alzheimer among the most common. Less document-able are the many un-ascertained ways a nation itself can lose its memory. Consider the enormous plunge in student & citizen knowledge about our country’s history [a plunge permitting zealots to re-write textbooks in order to “ed-educate” the next generation about slavery, evolution, free enterprise). Even less document-able are the insidiously innocent ways in which a citizenry gathers around the chattering cable class of pundits, or the whispered did-you-know conspiracy theorists in sports bars, or lets not forget the robed preachers of ideological & theological supremacy.
When every Monday morning we hear ourselves saying, “It’s a jungle out there!”, we probably understand the document-able vipers waiting. But far more dangerous is that undocumentable haze of furious ignorance out there. Ignorances people pride themselves in the name of convictions.
“Deadlock grips Washington, markets shake Wall Street, Syria & Israel face off! News at ten…!!”
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