As a history major in college, I've always had an affinity and appreciation for the story of our world. I often visit museums and monuments, taking moments to look into the context that lead us to now. Certainly nowadays this is a contentious issue in terms of who we decide to erect statues to and which ones we decide to take down.
While we create our collective memory of the past (meaning it is subject to our whims and limited by what we have left to examine), there is a universal thread that hit me recently; history is human.
We often exalt the figures of the past, making it hard to imagine and relate to them (especially since we don't have many realistic depictions of people until recently with the advent of video with color). But what is sobering to realize, is that these people we make monuments to and learn about in books, were just that, people. They were humans figuring out their way in the world as best they could, often making mistakes, and victims to their emotions. They made meaning as best they could with what they had, and did as well as they could muster with what they had. The impressive part is that they survived, thrived, expanded, and made it possible for us to be here in an amazing time to be alive (albeit at great cost and certainly we are in an imperfect world still).
It makes me feel like we can give these historical figures a bit of a break. They did all they could to improve life in their time (and often succeeded), we need to continue the tradition and use the incredible tools at our disposal to expand the common good. To be clear, I don't mean this to say we should give people free passes for the awful things they did. We should not honor people who embodied any sort of hateful ideology. With that being said though, history has always been made by humans working hard and working together. And while we are the cause of many of our own problems, we are also the solution to those problems.
People will be learning about our time in the future. What do we want them to say?