The people we find truly anathema are the ones who reduce the past to caricature and distortit to fit their own bigoted stereotypes. We’ve gone to events that claimed to be historic fashionshows but turned out to be gaudy polyester parades with no shadow of reality behind them. Aswe heard our ancestors mocked and bigoted stereotypes presented as facts, we felt like we hadgone to an event advertised as an NAACP convention only to discover it was actually a minstrelshow featuring actors in blackface. Some so-called living history events really are that bigoted.When we object to history being degraded this way, the guilty parties shout that they are justhaving fun. What they are really doing is attacking a past that cannot defend itself. Perhapsthey are having fun, but it is the sort of fun a schoolyard brute has at the expense of a child whogoes home bruised and weeping. It’s time someone stood up for the past.I have always hated bullies. The instinct to attack difference can be seen in every socialspecies, but if humans truly desire to rise above barbarism, then we must cease acting like beasts.The human race may have been born in mud and ignorance, but we are blessed with mindssufficiently powerful to shape our behavior. Personal choices form the lives of individuals; thesum of all interactions determine the nature of societies.At present, it is politically fashionable in America to tolerate limited diversity based aroundrace, religion and sexual orientation, yet following a trend does not equate with being trulyopen-minded. There are people who proudly proclaim they support women’s rights, yet have anappallingly limited definition of what those rights entail. (Currently, fashionable privileges arevoting, working outside the home and easy divorce; some people would be dumbfounded at theidea that creating beautiful things, working inside the home and marriage are equally desirablerights for many women.) In the eighteenth century, Voltaire declared, I disagree with what yousay but I will fight to the death for your right to say it.3 Many modern Americans seem to haveperverted this to, I will fight to the death for your right to agree with what I say.When we stand up for history, we are in our way standing up for all true diversity. When wequestion stereotypes and fight ignorance about the past, we force people to question ignorance ingeneral.
Sarah A. Chrisman
(...)Through the ship's telescopes, he had watched the death of the solar system. With his own eyes, he had seen the volcanoes of Mars erupt for the first time in a billion years; Venus briefly naked as her atmosphere was blasted into space before she herself was consumed; the gas giants exploding into incandescent fireballs. But these were empty, meaningless spectacles compared with the tragedy of Earth.That, too, he had watched through the lenses of cameras that had survived a few minutes longer than the devoted men who had sacrificed the last moments of their lives to set them up. He had seen ...... the Great Pyramid, glowing dully red before it slumped into a puddle of molten stone ...... the floor of the Atlantic, baked rock-hard in seconds, before it was submerged again, by the lava gushing from the volcanoes of the Mid-ocean Rift...... the Moon rising above the flaming forests of Brazil and now itself shining almost as brilliantly as had the Sun, on its last setting, only minutes before ...... the continent of Antarctica emerging briefly after its long burial, as the kilometres of ancient ice were burned away ...... the mighty central span of the Gibraltar Bridge, melting even as it slumped downward through the burning air ...In that last century the Earth was haunted with ghosts - not of the dead, but of those who now could never be born. For five hundred years the birthrate had been held at a level that would reduce the human population to a few millions when the end finally came. Whole cities - even countries - had been deserted as mankind huddled together for History's closing act.
Arthur C. Clarke