The Past

The Past
By Dennis McInerny

There would seem to be two major ways of mistreating the past. The first is to look upon it nostalgically; the second is to not look upon it at all, or at least not seriously, to treat it as something which has little or no bearing on the present, and which therefore any brave, progressive, ever forward-looking people can afford to ignore.

A bit of nostalgia every now and then need not necessarily be a bad thing, but what I have in mind by referring to a nostalgic regard for the past is an attitude which is put in place by the practice of imaginatively doctoring and reshaping the past so that it becomes something which, in fact, it never was. It is a practice which fosters a dreamy, sentimentalized rendition of the past, transforming it into a kind of Never-Never Land, to which one is constantly appealing, usually as a standing indictment against every aspect of the present, and the obsessive commitment to which serves to prevent a person from living fully and responsibly…

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