Many bytes and pixels have been used to express thoughts about the court case and the donations. I am not inclined to add more to the conversations (note: the word “debate” was passed over here), including the use of words such as “molehills”, “mountains”, “storms” and “teacups”.
Given that it is the 25th anniversary of some event today, my mind is occupied with something else.
In the past, I have not thought much about remembrance (or the need to remember, passing things down from one generation to another, even if the former generation was not there when it happened). On those lazy nights (be it the sweltering summers or the chilling winters) and after many hearty suppers, we would drive our cars to King’s Park in Perth and spend some time there, lying on the grass and gazing at the night sky above us. Sometimes, we would hang around a monument which was to remember Australian volunteers who lost their lives in the two World Wars.
I remembered how the words “lest we forget”, etched on the concrete, led to thoughts about what it really meant. Despite all of those social studies and history lessons in school, this wasn’t something that I picked up. But those words, in standard Times New Roman font and in a size possibly beyond MSWord’s limits, conveyed a sense of seriousness and respect.
While blame would be apportioned by various factions on who was the greater evil in any historical and social conflict, somewhere in our human consciousness was the need to remember those who perished or sacrificed because of someone’s (or a collective group of “someones”) agenda (hidden or otherwise). There’s no escaping the fact that someone’s father, mother, son, daughter, nephew, niece and beloved suffered such events, no matter which side of the fence you sit on.
Twenty-five years ago, people perished; some had tanks rolled over their bodies. Twenty-five years later, there is scant acknowledgement – let alone remembrance – of the atrocity in the country where it happened. And the New York Times’ commentary and image best express the general apathy that has afflicted most of the citizenry. There is also much ruminating about how generations after have forgotten or wish to think that it never happened.
Remembering such events offers societies an anchor even as we go about marvelling our achievements (be it scientific, medical, economical and even political). It draws our thoughts towards how our successes might have been built upon a time when people perished – even if their struggles were not directly linked to them. It puts our vulnerability to greed, selfishness, cruelty and brutality in a perspective that is easy to forget. It forces us to look even when we are just inclined to look away or pander to our (inherent) need to escape via ignorance when justice looks like it will never be served.
While there is always this need to satisfy the wanderlust for exotic locations in the world, there is now this new item on my travel checklist – to visit the park on a small island somewhere up north and join in the candlelight ceremony on this day in remembrance of the tragic event.
(Written on 4 June 2014)