Saturday, June 23, 2007

Healing Memories

This evening, Elizabeth and I will be attending a lecture by Rev. Dr. Hans Ucko, director of the Interfaith Dialogue Division of the World Council of Churches. I was reading an interview recently given by Rev. Ucko and he was asked about the fear and mistrust among religious persons, both between different religions and between Christian denominations (and, we might add, between the scientific and religious communities). He said that we are in need of 'healing memories'.

It strikes me that this phrase has a double meaning – 'healing' can be an adjective or a verb. We need both. We need memories which are healing and we also need to heal our memories.

This year marks the 200th anniversary to the illegalization of slavery in England. At that time, slavery was a very profitable activity, so it was a bold decision to make it illegal. This, I think, is a very healing memory. As a Southerner, I have long been aware of the fact that the US has still not healed from the Civil War. Evidence of this might be found in the last Presidential election. When I meet new people here in India, I am often asked if I am from a 'blue state' or a 'red state'. Am I a 'Repulican' or a 'Democrat'? Am I a 'liberal' or a 'conservative'. These are memories in need of healing. We have made dichotomies out of things which are non-dichotomous. States are not red or blue, they are red, white, and blue. We live in a republic, so we are all republican. But we live in a republic that strives for democracy, so we are all democratic, too. 'Conservative' represents an ideal that the government should not limit the 'liberties' of persons any more than necessary. 'Liberal' means precisely the same thing – it means that 'liberty' and 'freedom' are important values and ideals. Why have we allowed the media to dichotomize these principles? Why do we continue to allow it? We need to heal these memories.

De Las Casas represents both a healing memory and a memory in need of healing. As a person of Native American descent, De las Casas represents the person who stopped the ravaging and dehumanizaition of Native American persons. This is a healing memory. Unfortunately, De las Casas also represents the beginning of the capture, enslavement, and illegal
emigration (as opposed to illegal immigration) of Africans. This is a memory in need of healing.

I invite anyone who might read this to respond with a memory of your own – either a healing memory or a memory in need of healing, or both. This can be something personal or something global or something in between. If we do not identify the memories that are in need of healing, then how can we heal them? When we do identify them, one way we can heal them is by remembering memories which are healing. We need both.

3 comments:

elizabeb said...

This is a difficult task you've set before us, my dear. There are things in my life that I'm not certain about, whether they are to be healed or in the process of healing the preceding events. My thought as I write this that it should be a goal to make events such as 9/11 in the US or Darfur both healing and heal-able. What a challenge that would pose!!! Even suggesting it smacks of an "always look on the bright side of life" fantasy, but perhaps it would be the only way for us to put such things behind us.

E(Liz)a(Beth) said...

Whoops! That should have been signed with this ID.

Anonymous said...

South Carolina is running rampant with racism. I'm not sure if anyone told them the civil war is over. Where are you from?