My first thought is those fail to learn from history, are destined to repeat the mistakes and sins of the past. And some of the history is well within my parents or grandparents lifetimes, things that I heard about first hand, like the Holocaust, internment camps for Americans of Japanese ancestry, the inhumane medical experiments at Tuskegee. I was talking with one of our student interns recently, and she asked why do state guardianship laws require specific permission from the Court for amputations unless there is a life threatening emergency. The reason is simple, until the law changed state guardians would sometimes decide that a person who couldn't walk would be easier to care for without their legs, people who couldn't feed themselves would be better off without hands or arms that didn't function in the usual way. She was horrified, as she should be. (She is a sensitive soul, with a strong sense of outage.)
Tragedies that mankind is destined to repeat if we don't learn from the mistakes of those who came before us who allowed evil to happen, and those who committed acts of evil. It is also important to learn about the brave people who spoke out, or stood up against it.
As a nation we are still deeply flawed. Isms, racism, sexism, ableism, the list goes on are still flourishing - and there are those who wish to enable behaviour that makes these acceptable. Because addressing them makes someone feel uncomfortable. I weep for the country when I learn of this.
In the past couple of years I have learned that parts of my family history from the first half of the 1800's were altered, concealed, or overlooked to make a scoundel look like a hero. I am horrified to think of the actions of those who came before me. Pirates, privateers, ship captains in the early 1800's*, people who did business with criminals knowing they were doing so, and made a lot of money, are not heroes, they are an embarrassment. I am glad that the sons and grandsons of the scoundrel were a couple of generations of lazy drunks who squandered the ill gotten gain, that by time of grandfather's generation they started off penniless. I don't know if they never knew the truth, or if they covered it up, but the version I was told, was not the whole truth. Even the captain acknowledged late in his life, that nothing he could do or say, would make up for the sins of his early years.
Being woke, knowing, reinforces my drive to be a better human being. It does not injure me, it makes me stronger. I am truly sorry for the actions of my ancestors, please help me be a better person, so we can build a better future for all. Let's not repeat the tragedies of the past.
* Thank you to Lloyds of London for keeping detailed ship wreck histories.
** The photo at the top, was taken by my father in the early 1950's.