It's time to bury the dead
Side by SideIf we don't leave the past, we may join it. Last week's revelation by Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, that smoking or inhaling secondhand smoke poisons immediately, that "one puff" can trigger heart attack, lays to rest all further tobacco defense. And, it ought to be a metaphor for living in the now.
Published: December 16, 2010
Published: December 16, 2010
Year's end brings observations. Unless those details enhance our present, we do well to relegate them to history. In today's lingo: "That's so yesterday." The wind-down of the previous 12 months is calendar-marked by the birth of Jesus the Christ who promised a future that demands: "Let the dead bury their dead" (Matthew 8:22).
We have a hard time doing that. Instead of a living wisdom, we entomb ourselves with nostalgia, the "yester-daze." A November Associated Press article, pointing out that the '60s are turning 50, asked: "Is history slouching into anecdote?" Some have wasted their lives pining for Woodstock's three days of music, drugs, and "peace."
For too many of us, history is a patchwork of pointless stories unless they relate to us personally. Few see the whole. That mindset turns governmental decisions into selfish competitions and fuels the Madoff's of this world, even if it kills their sons.
Consider four articles on one page of a recent newspaper. The first concerned newly found drafts of President Eisenhower's farewell address, a speech on which he and his staff labored the last two years of his presidency.
By the time his warnings of a permanent armaments industry aired, it was embedded in our culture. The second, the release of CIA records documenting U.S. intelligence use of Gestapo agents after WWII, only illustrates that WikiLeaks' danger lies more in sources than old bones they expose.
The third blurb told of selling Custer's last flag for $2 million. If one is Sioux or Cheyenne, that bloodstained cloth might not be as much revered as hated.
On the bottom of the page, the fourth told of the South's plans to commemorate the Civil War's 150th anniversary. Once again, many participants will deny that slavery was its main cause, a stand as dead as Custer's.
Benard Simelton, president of Alabama's conference of the NAACP, expressed these feelings: "It's almost like celebrating the Holocaust."
A November report says the economy has hit the "death industry" hard, that headstone and coffin sales are down, that more of us are choosing "natural" burials.
The affluent will soon bid on a modest wooden box, the first coffin of Lee Harvey Oswald, President John Kennedy's assassin. Oswald's body was exhumed in 1981, in conjunction with further investigation into conspiracy theories, and then reburied in a replacement coffin.
Not burying the past is like that, an ongoing digging up of the dead. It is not advancing this country or its citizens.
Memories, bitter or sweet, blaming or exonerating, should be prologue to something better, not a backwards epilogue.
Digging up the dirt on former presidents wastes energy to help the current one help us. In the prophet Ezekiel's vision (37:3) of a valley full of dry bones, God asked: "Can these bones live?"
The answer is still the same: only if He blows His breath in. Otherwise, bury them.
Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If you are a seeker of simple truth, we can find it together-side-by-side.
Linda M. Downing is a freelance writer. Contact her at lindadowning.com.