I look at pictures of my grandparents. They were all alive when I was born. They died when I was five, sense, ten, and sixteen. My grandfathers proceeded my grandmothers. I have a few hazy memories of the men. A little more of my material grandmother. I truly remember my paternal grandmother. I don’t miss them in the traditional sense. I don’t feel their absences keenly. I miss what could have been. I have many friends in adulthood who still have one or more grandparents alive. Who have a loving relationship with them. I wonder how that would feel.
Further up the chain are the previous generation. We don’t have pictures of them all. The ones we have move me very little. It is more of a novelty factor. I never met these people. Therefore I do not have a bond with them. No intimate feelings or memories. I am intrigued though. What were my parents’, who I love and know well, grandparents like. How much did they shape my grandparents. I think it stops there.
My mom has done a lot of genealogical research for both sides of my family. I enjoy looking at it from time to time. I think I knew all eight great-grandparents surnames, maiden in the case of the women. For the most part I knew who many children there were, what their names were, who had died young. I look at my kids. Will they know their grandmothers’ maiden names? The generation before that? My grandmothers. I highly doubt it.
Where my mother has scant photographs of generations above her, my children, and their children will have more than they could process. I have thousands upon thousands of pictures from when my first child was born, and I continue to accumulate more. When will the last one of those be deleted or left to fade into oblivion on some storage device somewhere. I am not so self-absorbed that I don’t realize that I will no longer be remembered by any living person at some point. Upon my last child’s death? Upon their children’s death? And I become a novelty, until a couple more generations pass, and I am no more.
My mind wanders to Abraham Lincoln. A few pictures of him exist. There are many, many portraits. He is one of the most recognizable faces in America. Even he will fade slowly Vauthier surely. His role in The Civil War and abolishing slavery was huge. Will the many events of national significance, that have occurred since, and continue to occur into the future be enough to water his memory down, eventually into oblivion. Some people from very far back in history are remembered: Ramses II; Buddha; Julius Caesar; Jesus Christ; Muhammad; Christopher Columbus; Shakespeare etc. etc. Portraits of all these people exist. As to their accuracy I cannot attest. Will these people be remembered as long as humans exist. That is impossible to say. Of course catastrophic events, including climate change could reduce us to a planet of beings just fighting for life through basic needs. Communications will get to a point where images and history can no longer be spread. Pockets of communities will be alone. Is that the only thing that can take these people out of our collective memory?
Onto one of the most infamous people ever. Maybe just of our time. Is he my time because my grandparents remember the events of The Holocaust as it became known? Hitler probably comes to a huge number of minds when we think of evil incarnate. There are video recordings of his speeches. These make him so much more real than all who preceded him before video and photography did not exist. Everyone knows what he looks like. I can bring to mind any one of a number of his rhetorical speeches spewing his hatred. This is so much more powerful than photos of him. He put in motion a hatred-driven machine that killed six million people. Will we remember him for ever? It would be lovely to forget of his existence. To rid the horrible images from our heads. We need to remember so we don’t repeat it. It does repeat though. Srebrenica, Rwanda, Darfur, and sadly likely many more to come. As a race we do repeat the mistakes of the past. So what’s the point in remembering the barbarians? Does it honor the victims? Is it necessary to remember the perpetrator to remember the victims? In a few hundred years the holucost will be remembered. Eventually it will become just another awful historical event among many others.
It seems wrong for Martin Luther King Jnr. to follow Hitler. Chronologically it is where I’m being led. The only similarities between the two men, is that they are famous historical figures who lived in close proximity in terms of time. They are polar opposites in most other aspects. Dr. King wanted African-Americans to have the same rights as Caucasians. Further than that he wanted all people to live in harmony. I think of him frequently. In writing we have come so far. We are all equal. If he was shown where we officially I can only imagine how happy he would be. Yet here we are, black people still in ghettos. Institutionalized racism. Poor graduation rates. Prison populations. Single parents. Blatant racism both in the world at large – workplaces, stores, restaurants, basically anywhere where people are. Private citizens. Racist. Spurred on other racists. Disgusting treatment of fellow humans. Is it a lack of education, ignorance, a will to be evil, and other things that breed these racists. How is it not blatantly obvious that black people do not have the opportunity whites have. That you cannot expect people who are suddenly given equal rights (mostly in name only) to make it to the same level as their oppressors immediately. I guess this is where I imagine King being heartbroken. Keeping his memory, and his dream in all American’s minds, is likely crucial for the ongoing fight for equality.
Many humans ignore the fact that they are mortal. It gives them a false sense of security. Interestingly many of us have an insatiable urge to become more… successful, powerful, famous. Surely some of that lies in a want to never be forgotten. Why is that? I do not know. I have never had the urge to be famous, or rich, or overly successful. I am an average working mom. I want to have a career I am good at and enjoy. I do not want to rise through the rasnks so that I have to work 24/7. I want to be a good mother. I want to love and be loved. I want to be a relatively ‘good’ person – whatever that looks like. That’s about it. I don’t claim to be perfect. Many who crave fame and riches may well not believe my lack of desire for them. I do not need to be remembered after death. I hope I will have been a loving enough person that I’ll be in minds for a couple of generations. Will modern-day actors and musicians be remembered? Unlikely.
Politicians? To an extent. Many Americans, maybe most, cannot name all forty-five Presidents. Those who can likely know little about them. At their time, they were possibily the most important person in the country. I am going to venture into politics because that’s where my mind takes me. It saddens me to think that Obama and Trump will share equal parts in future humans’ minds. Regardless, both will be remembered for a long time. I hope future generations’ majorities will realize how farcical and dangerous Trump is. They will likely be flabergasted by his election and rule. I think the bad is almost always stronger than the good in terms of salaciousness and newsworthiness.
Full circle. I’m okay with fading into oblivion. It doesn’t bother me at all. Most people will live and die in the same manner. Those who don’t. Who get their way. Whose wish for ever after came to pass. They will not be here to see it or enjoy it forever. Yeah. So. Just live your life. Don’t be a dick. Be a ‘not dick’. The rest is all bullshit.