Every once in a while my husband and I will watch a silent movie on Turner Classic Movies. Tonight the offering is "Little Annie Rooney" starring Mary Pickford, a 1925 film. For movie goers of today used to the wonders of modern technology this movie will seem melodramatic, kitchy, dull or painful to watch.
But for us these movies offer us a glimpse into the past, our collective history, a distant mirror. In 1925 this technology was state of the art.Mary Pickford was "America's Sweetheart". She was also a savvy business woman and one of the founders of United Artists - truly a modern woman.
Watching some of these films affords us an opportunity to see how people looked, what music was appreciated, how they lived, dressed, enjoyed life, or found escape from everyday life.
With each passing year, decade, century, millennium we lose a sense of what has come before, what has brought us to who and where we are. I am fortunate that my parents raised me to appreciate our collective history. I do believe what historians have espoused that if we do not learn from the past we are bound to repeat it.
Perhaps it is my interest in, ties to, affiliation with and focus on what has come before and how our studies can give us insights into how our nation was formed, what divided us, what united us, what brought us together and what tore us apart, how we came to be who were are today as a people that draws me to this topic. Or maybe it was what I heard on NPR this evening driving to yoga.
But I truly do believe that we have a responsibility to look at the past, accept where we have been, remember what has come before, appreciate how far we have come, and decide to do better.
Be it acceptance of that we cannot control, embracing multiculturalism, appreciation for the globalization of our world, tolerance for those who are different or believe differently, compassion for those in pain, celebration of those who succeed, love of friends and family, kindness to a stranger, letting go of frustration and resentments, embracing change, I believe there are lessons to be learned from the past.
Occasionally that glimpse into where we have been gives me a reminder that we are all on a journey and celebration of the strides we've made which must be balanced with appreciation for how far we've come. Yes, to be trite, Rome wasn't built in a day.
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