Courage and the Past

Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”                                        

                                 ― James Baldwin (As Much Truth As One Can Bear, 1962)

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James Baldwin on the Albert Memorial with statue of Shakespeare. (Wiki commons)

I saw the above quote by James Baldwin over the weekend on social media, and my mind started making connections as to where it might apply. It could apply to personal wrongs and failures, or to wider historical ones, which of course is what Baldwin was referring to. By coincidence, the New York Times had another relevant story a few days ago about the reluctance of the Turkish government (and most of its citizens) to acknowledge the genocide of Armenians that occurred a century ago. It makes me wonder where, exactly, that reluctance originates, and why it can be so stubborn.

Last year, the New York Times (again) ran a collection of short essays on overcoming difficult pasts (“Turning Away From Painful Chapters”). Examples included the brutal murder of a British soldier on the streets of London, domestic violence against women in the UK, the Spanish Civil War, the killings in Rwanda, the Holocaust, and the legacy of American slavery and the brutality of Jim Crow laws in the US.

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