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Live out of imagination, not history

CC Pung’s dose of philosophical musings.
(The writer is a Sabah Justice of Peace, Tokoh Wartawan Sabah and Labuan.)

I used to hate history.

I didn’t know why. But I skipped history classes and ignored it in exams. Growing up has changed much of that.

But even as I grew to appreciate the wisdom in such quotation as “you’re bound to repeat past mistakes if you ignored history” or “the wise learn from the mistakes (history) of orhers”, I also learn about how history, even that of the personal kind, can be  psychological baggage weighing down my willingness and potential for change; and the so called notion of ‘burden of history’.

  I’m thinking if the ‘burden’ of knowing history is a hey factor in the so-called ‘generation gap’.

The phrase ‘generation gap’ denotes the divide between ‘generation’, which used to be universally accepted to mean 25 years, or thereabout.

But the paces of change in all fronts of human endeavour have narrowed that gap.

A father of the past hardly changed jobs in his life time. The generation after him may have changed jobs every few years.

Like in other fields from science to values, rapid frequent changes simply push history out of sight. Exigency rules.

When I plunged into journalism some 50 years ago, my psyche, my mind were filled with the philosophy of ‘The Fourth Estate’, journalistic independence, the code of ethics and all the values as an advocate of press freedom.

These, and many more, have been not just burdens of history, but also ‘burdens of knowledge’ (imagine if I was blissfully ignorant …) or at worst a burden of conscience.

Today, even bodies supposedly representing the profession paid scant attention to the core values and principles that is journalism.

I don’t know what the ‘current’ narrative is. And isn’t that, my friend, a manifestation of my ‘burden/s’?

Applying this to my 36-year association with the Lions Clubs International, I’m beginning to think that my ‘burden’ of knowing the past has made be an obsolete dinosaur.

No, I’m not resistant to change. But there comes a time when the tides of change are simply overwhelming. There comes a time that the best for me to do is to shut up and let things be because my knowledge and appreciation and nostalgia about the past are best kept to myself.

But then ….

Scholars in China have identified the 5000-year old continuing Chinese history, including its rich literature, history and philosophy have been the cornerstones to the resilience and growth of everything Chinwse.

They even credited China’s meteoric rise in the world stage, from a near failed state to aneconomic power, to the Chinese people embracing the lessons of history.

Forgetting history? No way.

While Japan repeatedly attempted to erase its atrocities of WW2 especially its invasion of China and the brutalities of the Nanjing massacre, China has been erecting monuments and staging big memorial services to etch in the memories of the chinese people the “shame and humiliation that must never be foegotten”.

That US President Biden just hosted Japanese prime minister at the wlWhite House and hailed Japan’s partnership with the US is the cornerstone of security in the indo-pacific region’ not only made me vomit, but gives me a better admiration of China’s character. Remember, US dropped two atomic bombs in Japan to force it to surrender in WW2, humiliated the revered emperor of Japan and forced it to sign a deal to limit arms expansion.

History, or the past, is relevant, though we may not always like it.

Editor: The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of Talantang

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