You have presentism. You can’t deny it, at least you can’t do so yet, because you don’t know what I am talking about. The real conversation I want to have is how bad do you have it.
Presentism isn’t perhaps what you think. Living in the present is a good thing, and there are a lot of metrics that support adapting to your surroundings quickly. I argue we have to. That is how we manage hunger, danger, happiness, etc. Sure, we tend to look into the future too often, and some of us get stuck reliving the past; regardless, the present is a great place to conduct business.
As an ideology, presentism means that you use today’s standards to judge the past and those who lived then. At its core, this is a strongly held belief that lacks any need for justification. After all, we think the “present world” values are right, and the values from the times of George Washington and Robert E Lee just weren’t.
Those men just “should have known better.” They should have known that racism was bad. They should have known that slavery is bad. They should have known that giving your family nice paying jobs just because they were family is wrong. Yet, for whatever reason, they did all those “bad, bad things.” No apologies, no gifts to charity to offset their profits; they just lived and died with “bad” written on the story of their lives.
I thought about presentism watching this video of the destruction of a great artifact in Afghanistan. The Taliban shelled it from a tank because the artwork wasn’t “right” in the present. They had no struggles justifying their actions to the rest of the world. They “knew” that the artwork was part of a false teaching that needed to be canceled. They just “knew” it, and all records of its existence had to be destroyed if humanity was to progress.
Watch this next video. You will see Americans that share the same heart as the Taliban. You can see it in this video as they tear down Civil War-era statues. The public sentiment was simple. If there is a connection to slavery, the monuments must go.
Presentism ideology says that anyone who ever owned a slave was “wrong.” They might not be evil because others did it, too. However, they are wrong; we must remove their presence from history and our public places. That is their bottom line.
If I am honest and consider what I would have done if I lived back then, I am sure I would have had slaves if I could afford them. All the books I have authored would be burned and the efiles deleted. I am doomed. Even now, I am writing a trilogy about life on and off the Oregon trail for a group of immigrants from Prussia and three former families of slaves from Virginia. The year is 1866. I continually find myself in their shoes as I save URLs that contain information I use to write this book series.
What would I have done back then? I don’t think I would have been “better” than the slave traders of the bullies that rule the seas and the sugar cane fields. I am an entrepreneur, and many professions were very profitable in that they supported slaving and kept it operating. That same mindset exists in oxycontin manufacturing. Perhaps all the records from those businesses and the Sackler family that marketed the product will also be “canceled” from our culture. Tel Aviv University resists the pressure to remove the Sackler name from its School of Medicine. Give it time. The Sackler’s philanthropic efforts shall take their place beside Jefferson Davis statues at the bottom of a lake somewhere.
Yet, it is the heart that demands all these items be removed that we must consider. “I would certainly have done better,” is the unspoken conclusion of the individuals who tear down the statues of Jefferson David and Robert E. Lee.
Really? Do you really think you would have done better? Both of those men were absolutely set in their belief that no one should tell them what to do on their own property. I also hate it when people tell me what to do. I hate it when people tell me where I must go. I share their heart. And I don’t know what to tell you if you opposed getting vaccinated and also wanted to tear down the statues. Do you or don’t you like people telling you what to do?
At the end of that thought, I paused again. If weathermen and political scientists can gain credibility by predicting the future with vast uncertainties, I will take my stab at it. As a former technology leader, let me apply some futuristic thinking; tell me what you think.
Let’s pretend we have fast-forwarded to 2050. The “woke” of that time will look back at all the municipalities that make up whatever is the USA at that time, and they will universally conclude that Mcdonald’s and its commitment to start employees at minimum wage was a form of organized exploitation. They will claim it mirrors the mentality behind child trafficking and slavery.
Our politicians will agree, and we will all be asked to “voluntarily” pass by a machine that shall erase all our positive feelings about Mcdonald’s and replaces them with intracranial commercials for entities that we should like. We will be given the freedom to go more places and do more things than our friends and family who don’t walk by the machine (think non-vaccination limitations), as a part of our government-syndicated, hated replacement therapy. Read that again. The government will “assist us” in getting rid of our false beliefs about the past. However, instead of removing it from our public places and our search engines, they will take it from our biology and our experience.
Look forward to hearing what you think about presentism.