The name of this blog, Rainbow Juice, is intentional.
The rainbow signifies unity from diversity. It is holistic. The arch suggests the idea of looking at the over-arching concepts: the big picture. To create a rainbow requires air, fire (the sun) and water (raindrops) and us to see it from the earth.
Juice suggests an extract; hence rainbow juice is extracting the elements from the rainbow, translating them and making them accessible to us. Juice also refreshes us and here it symbolises our nutritional quest for understanding, compassion and enlightenment.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Questioning Memorials

Someone once said “what we memorise, we memorialise.”  Just five words, yet they summarise an unhelpful approach to our unfolding social development.

When we memorialise something we place it on a pedestal, or put it in a museum, and accord it an unquestioned status.  We place it in a state of reverence, locked away to be looked at and memorialised.  We place it beyond question.

Our memorialisation of war is a classic example.  Look around the countrysides and city squares of most nations and we will see statues, plaques, and other memorials to battles, famous generals, or memorials to the victims of those battles.  Some historical battles will be memorialised and remembered by services or parades.  We memorise – we memorialise.

But, do we question, do we learn, do we seek alternatives to war?  Mostly, the answer is no.

Questioning our past battles is often derided as being disrespectful towards those who fought for our country and our way of life.  Yet, is it not more respectful to acknowledge those who went before, and honour their memory by asking how their sacrifice can be something we can learn from, something we can build on.  It was the 18th century Irish statesman, Edmund Burke, who noted that “those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.”

Yes, we must know our history.  If we do not question it then how can we ever learn from it, so that we do not become doomed to repeat it.  The example of war, is only the most glaring of our cultural avoidance of questioning our past.  We must learn, or rediscover, how to question.  Not by forgetting or dishonouring, but by being respectful in our questioning. 

Our culture, however, steers us away from questioning.  Beginning in school, sometimes even earlier, we are told, as children that “kids should be seen and not heard.”  We are told to not ask so many questions, yet it is how we learnt as children.  We asked: why is the sky blue? why does grandpa use a walking stick? how do birds fly? what’s that?  Questions, questions, questions.  By the time of the age of four most children are asking around 300 or more questions each and every day.  School drums that out of us – answers become more important it seems.  If we don’t get the right answers then somehow we are unintelligent, or perhaps lazy. 

Once out of school, our culture doesn’t relent.  Our culture reminds us that our job in life is to toe the line, not question.  How many of us have been told in a work situation, “don’t ask questions, just do the job,” or “that’s not the way we do it round here.”  Follow the rules, don’t ask questions.

It is no wonder then, that when it comes to us attempting to learn from our past, from our history, we don’t seem to be able to do it.  Most of us, by adulthood, have lost the art of questioning.

We need to rediscover the art of questioning.  We need to be asking questions like: is there a better way? can we find alternatives to war? how do we avoid famine and poverty? how do we avoid species loss? how do we ensure a brighter future for the generations to come?

We start with each and every one of us not giving in to a  culture that says memorise this and don’t question it.  Then we move on to our families; we encourage our children to keep questioning.  We don’t stop there though.  We teach the art of questioning, the art of thinking for ourselves.  We teach and expect critical thinking.  We teach and encourage creative thinking.  In everyone!

We stop memorialising.  We start honouring our past so as to build on it.

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