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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Microstory 393: Honor

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Approval

Honor is not something I would personally enjoy, but for many, it’s important. Years ago, I saw an episode of The Boondocks that was set in an alternate reality. It describes a history where Martin Luther King, Jr. was never assassinated. In present day, his ideas are often dismissed, and his acceptance in constant flux. The writers were making the suggestion that he was only able to make things better on a grand scale by his own death. This is a terrible and scary thought, but it is true in many ways. It’s a lot easier to point out the changemakers once they’ve gone, whether they were taken before their time, or not. How many artists were successful during their lifetime compared to those who weren’t? They did exist, and some even lost their fame following their deaths, so don’t think I’m claiming an answer of zero. I’m just saying that it’s safer to respect and honor a notable figure in history, rather than someone of today, because they no longer have a chance to screw it up. We all loved Lance Armstrong until we found out that he had been using performance enhancing pharmaceuticals. Can you imagine if we had immediately put his face on money, or something crazy like that? Honor itself is not a big problem, but I do take issue with idolizing certain figures, and I’m not referring to those who were not as great as we were always taught (I’m looking at you, Christopher Columbus). By honoring particular individuals, or rather by the way we honor them, we often neglect their teachings. Students are assigned projects during Black History Month to teach them why it exists, but these feel like regular assignments, and the lesson can be so easily lost. Instead of merely honoring this one person, maybe we should just think about how they felt. Let’s talk less about what MLK did during his lifetime, and what he went through, and focus more on his words. It’s his words that he wanted you to hear, because his circumstances were out of his control. We do still need to hear about it, so we can understand the kind of world he was living in; I’m just saying we should try to treat him like a teacher. This goes for any other honored individual, including those you know personally.

Enthusiasm

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