When I was a little girl our family only talked of the past. How it had been during World War II. How you had to be wary of some people because of how they had treated the Jews during the war. How you had to be on your guard about world events.
That feeling has remained with me. I do not trust easily.
What I have learned from all this is that nothing changes. As the French say: “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” Wars still occur. People still discriminate and scapegoat some members of society. As for slavery, well, the West might have abolished it, but slavery continues in the rest of the world.
Civilisation is applied as a very thin veneer and it doesn’t take much to scratch that veneer away. I am appalled by what is revealed beneath it.
You only have to observe the stupid revellers and hoons on Saturday night, male and female, drunk and violent, assaulting innocent passers-by to realise that we have not progressed from the Dark Ages.
I would like to think that such cretins are in the minority, but you only have to witness how shoppers are prepared to trample one another at a Christmas Sale, or bash someone who supports a fan of a different sports team to conclude that, quite frankly, it really doesn’t matter what happens to the world.
The past does not seem to have taught people anything at all. The future does not exist yet and things look grim anyway. We are obsessed with saving the environment while human beings descend into an inferno of soulless animals who are not worth saving anyway.
So what can one do about all this? One can go on a mission to save the world and when you are young you can give in to these delusions. It’s something to do. Like going on a forty-hour famine knowing full well that at the end of it you will stuff yourself on pizzas and French Fries until you burst. So much for comprehending true famine which is all about not knowing where your next meal will come from or if it will come at all.
When you are older, however, and you have witnessed horror and keep on witnessing horror until you realise that it will always be there, then you have to adapt. You have to stop kidding yourself. You are helpless against the future. The past is best filed under Experience and the sooner it is shelved the better. Besides, it will only be repeated anyhow.
So what to do? Be in the present. There is nothing else.