The recovery of Edward Colton’s statue from Bristol harbour is literally dredging up the past, but the past is made up.
Our own past, even our immediate past, is a partial recollection of highly filtered perceptions. This past only exists as a thought in the present and yet we allow it to drown out what is happening now. We dwell on things that happened even moments ago and distort our reactions to what is in front of us.
We live in a cloud of conditioned responses, steered by the collective made up stories of our families, friends, and culture. These collective stories on the grandest scale are history. This historical past is even more made up.than our individual past. It is not real, yet we allow it to dominate our present, to distract us from the only reality we will ever know. Now.
Deeply imbedded cultural norms of seeking justice, of retribution, of an eye for an eye, keep us stuck in a made up past that we can’t change. Even in our personal relationships we risk being trapped in a perpetual tit for tat that will never end unless we find a way to step out of it.
What matters is how we are now, in this moment, fresh, each time. Without baggage, without the stories, without prejudice (from Latin praeiudicium “prior judgment,”). Not black, not white, not wronged, not guilty. Human beings made of the very same residue of an exploding star, facing the same challenges, frightened of the same things, yet capable of the same unbelievable acts of courage and compassion.