the will to forget

i am trying to see if i can forget certain things – certain people in history who have been misremembered as being really amazing and worth having their names known. i feel like getting to be known in history is this beautiful thing which certain people shouldn’t get.

at least, not forever.

especially not bad people – i feel like people responsible for great violence either get lauded as evil mastermind geniuses or as heroes because all their secrets are kept.

when there is a bad person, the blame for the violence that humans wreak on each other and the planet under evil reign is sort of delegated to that person. so we don’t have to take responsibility for what happened, what is happening, the way we respond to it, the way we benefit.

and i’m learning through relationship with elders that remembering is an ultimate honoring, it’s what the ambitious among us are trained to long for: to matter in history.

we can’t go back, to my knowledge, but can we just take that away from the genocidal dictators and tyrants of time? can we say – what you participated in was wrong, you don’t get to matter anymore, you don’t get a float with parades, or to be associated with an awesome day off – we are moving forward with our scars, but without you.

who gets the privilege of forgetting?
who has the will?

this is something i am just beginning to think.

but for instance, today is a federal holiday in this country, every year we celebrate a mythology built around a man who got lost and then sparked the genocide of indigenous people of the americas – we celebrate him as an explorer/discoverer. the year before i was born, in 1977, another day was born, indigenous people’s day.

if anything get’s celebrated today, it should be that day.

and/or, rather than lifting up one ignorant man, today could be a day when everyone reflects on how we are still reaping the benefits of the genocidal founding of this country. not to wallow in our shame, but for integenerational accountability, to place ourselves in the context of reality.

i know this genocidal inheritance strategy is not romantic in the way nations like.

and anyway, i also love the idea of just forgetting him altogether, or reducing him. remembering that there were many many colonizers, many people who practiced genocide, and that we are living with the multitudinous results of that. but letting him fade into the masses of that violence, not singling him out as a hero or a villian. letting him disintegrate into history – would that be some transformative justice?

today i made lots of plans for work, with other people. work calls, meetings. and in none of the scheduling, and in none of the calls, did we say the name of this holiday, not even to say, “i don’t celebrate [mythological genocidal hero] day”. we weren’t self-congratulatory or self-righteous, just working hard.

where anything was mentioned, it was indigenous people’s day.

my little world.

this day made me wish that indigenous people had so much more of our collective time and attention and love than (a percentage of some people) reclaiming a day…and that the day they do have was on another day totally unassociated with this one.

it made me long in my bones for the authentic now that will allow us to truly let go of the lies of then, with which we are often building and rebuilding the narrative of our american superiority.

it made me long for the humility that admits mistakes, apologizes for violence, honors elders and heals in community.

it’s connected to gifting my attention. what we give our attention to grows. the choice to remember the politics, the social context, the pain – and to forget the person who did it – is a choice. to stop giving him our attention, to unfurl a massive no that means yes: yes we can have a new story for what this place is, and why, and where we are going as a species, towards connectivity, love, resilience.

i am just beginning to think these kind of thoughts but they come from a long line of recoiling from national holidays and hero mythologies. in real life, i have never seen someone both utterly solitary and successful. we lean on each other, we support each others worst and embrace each others best. we remember each others likes and loves and needs, and we care for each other.

we forget what does not serve us. we forget lost men and remember found communities, found histories, found people.

i’m starting to speak definitively again, from my longing.

what i mean is: is this possible?