When we can’t solve personal problems, we go after impersonal ones. If people can’t fix the gang problem, drug abuse, drug trafficking, fatherless homes, the high school drop-out rate, street violence, criminality, and a completely shattered moral compass, they’ll just go beat up people and tear down a statue instead. That’s a lot easier, and may also be an outlet for the rage they feel over all those other, bigger, unsolved, chronic problems.
Has a statue of anyone ever stepped down off a podium to mess up anyone’s life? No, we do that all by ourselves.
I’m no fan of the confederacy, of course, and I wish slavery never would have happened in America, but I keep in mind that America is the only country that ever fought a war, in large part, to abolish it at the cost of many lives. I remind myself that a lot of white people died in that war. I also remind myself that slavery existed in most other countries of the world at one time or another, and still does today in quite a few. I remind myself that slavery existed in Africa long before whites ever showed up. It didn’t start with us. But we ended it with a Civil War at the cost of 620,000 lives.
So as I watch people tear down statues, I wonder if they ever stop to think that – instead of trying to erase history – it might be wiser to take that energy and fight to add another little plaque at the feet of those statues that will teach children the Confederacy lost, that slavery lost, that hatred lost. That’s something to be proud of, and unique in world history. It’s true that forgetting history condemns us to repeat it. And destroying statues is what Islamic terrorists do.
If America were a person with a voice, she would be able to say, “Yeah, I had some major problems, but I fixed them. It wasn’t easy, but I’m okay now. Not perfect, but a whole lot better than I was.”
How many of the people currently trying to destroy the evidence of America’s problems of the past can say the same about themselves?
Personally, I’d rather have a visual tool to teach my kids that the good guys won, let them see what a bad guy looks like, and have another reason to be proud of America for all she has overcome. I’d rather stand at the foot of that statue and smile, knowing evil lost.
The irony is that if every person on earth would get their own house in order, all societal problems would cease immediately. But “becoming the change we want to see in the world” is hard so, instead, as an outlet for all the frustration and rage people feel for not being able to change themselves, they just go out and smash something, or someone. Being paid by a political party to cause mayhem and division makes them not only fools, but pawns, too.
We can be better than this. We can be smarter than this. We can fight fascism without becoming fascists. We can embrace our past and learn the hard lessons it taught, or destroy it all and guarantee that future generations will forget and repeat it.