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Earth’s Remembrance

September 20, 2023

By João Vale Moreira

To this unique and beautiful collection of rocks, water, lava, air, plants, and beings – from which fertility and life spring – we call Earth, because the Romans decided so. The Earth gives us an example of its permanence, in its constant change. Man, during his evolution and passing of time, has also been various and has gone through various phases, but unlike nature, always tends to force himself into oblivion.  

Meteorite craters and dormant volcanoes are closer to Agatha Christie, Roald Dahl and Ian Fleming than we might think. So are rivers and seas to the age of European explorations and colonialism. They are landmarks, stories, scars and realizations of those. History is precisely this record of past events, which cannot be changed, although they can always be consulted by a different eye. Like faults in the earth’s crust, it is understandable that some historical events, or the way they were reported at the time, cause discomfort, especially when they involve injustice, oppression, massacres and violence. 

In recent years, a movement has emerged calling for “replacing” or “changing” historical facts, or “unpleasant words”, as a supposed way of righting the wrongs of the past. This view of history is the equivalent of wanting to replace the ground beneath our feet. Planet Earth is what it is; any boldness to force it to change can have unpredictable consequences, as we have been experiencing. Similarly, history is what it is. Trying to replace or change historical facts can cause us to lose touch with our cultural heritage and roots. It is important to have a correct understanding of the past, as it was, so that we do not make the same mistakes in the future. Substituting historical facts, words, period ways of thinking and cultural perspectives can only lead to a serious alienation from reality. Promoting an innocuous, sterile, and purified vision of history, of the world, which serves the subjectivity of each recipient, prevents evolution, denies justice and the reconciliation of man with himself. History is not perfect and certainly is not the prophylaxis of susceptibilities, nor the cure for all the wounds of oppression, and it will never be. 

Instead of trying to replace, change or erase, we should focus on criticizing, analyzing, and building. We should recognize the mistakes of the past and look at the injustices of the present. History and the Earth are two key examples of this. With the ability to understand these processes, contextualizing them with the value systems of each era, we are stronger. It takes effort to learn from our past, respecting that narratives are more susceptible to some than to others. The importance of memory is precisely this, to remember, to leave in sight, to allow consultation to make it lighter. The day we erase what we do not want to remember, we generate a non-existence and that will be the end of everything.