Remember, don’t rewrite

Remember, dont rewrite

“But why do we have to learn history? It all happened hundreds of years ago anyway,” the whiny student in my middle school history class complained.

“In learning history, we understand the changes and action that took place to form the society we live in today. And most importantly, it ensures that the mistakes made in the past will never be repeated again,” my wise history teacher replied.

Though I might not have realized it three years ago, I now understand the sagacious words that emerged from my history teacher’s mouth on the first day of school in eighth grade. History is a remembrance of the past, and rewriting it is detrimental for the past, present, and future of our society.

One of the most horrible examples of this took place in Cambodia, concerning the national genocide that took place around forty years ago by the Khmer Rouge. It’s approximated that almost two million died in the genocide that lasted four years. Rather than honor those who died, opposition president Sokha attempted to claim that the events never took place. Rightfully, the protests and outrage from citizens stopped the wicked train of thought from ever continuing. Government officials should never be promoting the removal of an event from a country’s history, especially one with deep emotional trauma associated with it.

And while one may think that nowadays, our society is too mature to attempt such a juvenile act as rewriting history, the truth is surprising. Just a few months ago, Polish government passed a new bill dubbed the “Holocaust Law.” The controversial bill makes it illegal to blame the state for responsibility of Nazi occupation. The outrage to the law is because historians worldwide agree that the law is rewriting history. It’s scary to think that a modern government today still has the power to come so far with a law so unjust.

We’re taught that it’s okay to make mistakes, but if that’s the case, why are the mistakes of the past being covered up by governments? Why did the Cambodian government try to omit its errors in judgment? Why is the Polish government attempting to erase its wrongdoings? Why are governments not practicing what our teachers are preaching?

We should remember and never forget the past, but rewriting it is worse than forgetting entirely. Because, as my history teacher said, in remembrance, we ensure that the mistakes of the past never occur again. However, rewriting the past only spreads ignorance and allows for the same wrongdoings to happen again in the future.