One of my favorite philosopher is Martin Heidegger, a German existentialist who, unfortunately, was blinded by Hitler’s rhetorics in the beginning but later denounced Nazism.
According to Heidegger, we are all “beings of forgetfullness”; he explained that this is the main reason why we always lead “inauthentic living.”
And that is true. We always have to remember the past not to take tally of how we were hurt or maltreated by others; we remember the painful past so that we would not repeat it and do them again onto others.
It is so sad that in our lives, we keep on remembering how we got inflicted with wounds so that we could wound others; hence, what we have is a vicious circle of violence and retributions.
That I think is the essence of “learning from history”—-of not repeating the same mistakes over and over again.
This is often at the root of many of our problems in our dealings with other people: parents, priests, teachers, supervisors or almost anyone who always remember the difficulties they have gone through when they were younger; we are sometimes guilty of harking at our painful past and get even with those presently under us. And the pains and the hurts increase, forgetting the lessons that could have been learned.
Our country is in deep, deep, deep crises because we are mostly “beings of forgetfullness”—we have a poor sense of history, we can’t remember the lessons of the past because we did not learn at all or just maybe, preoccupied with getting even or vengeance.
Forgiving does not mean forgetting because that is impossible; God programmed us to always remember so that we could become more loving, more forgiving, more understanding, and more like Him in seeing what’s good in everyone.
At the back of Yad Vashem is a breathtaking view of Jerusalem below. After seeing and somehow experiencing the horrors of the Holocaust, I can’t help thinking how come God could accept and allow the Jews, Moslems, and Christians live together in His old city when we can’t even stand the sight or the smell of the person next to us because he is not of same color or creed with us?
With my parishioners the other day at Yad Vashem. Many cried at the sights in the museum but we were all touched with the personal story and reflections of our guide, a 70 year old man we fondly call Lolo Mendy. Will write his stories later.