30 Dec 2022
During the past year, we spent time clearing out my deceased mother-in-laws’ house. It involved multiple family members, remarkably few arguments, and a ten cubic metre skip bin. For a woman who lived in a small house, there was a lot of stuff. It was an eye opener to me, because I could have sworn to you that she didn’t have a lot of things accumulated.
There were a lot of discoveries made. Some discoveries we knew were hiding there somewhere and would eventually come to light. For instance – she had a large souvenir teaspoon collection that most of us have horrific memories of being instructed to clean. No-one wanted to find this, lest they be the unwanted recipient of this very extensive piece of family history. The rules for this were definitely finders keepers.
But it was this little collection of books, found as we were unloading the sixty billion books from my mother-in-laws bookcases, that got me to thinking.
Hindsight really is 20/20, isn’t it?
Looking back, we don’t know much about people we admire, artists who entertain us, or even activities undertaken in seemingly the best interests of someone.
It’s only now, faced with books by someone with a checkered history of violence, or music created by someone later to be accused of unthinkable sex crimes, that we wonder whether we should have known. Surely there were hints that something wasn’t quite right?
Personalities aside, there are multiple stories of people doing what they think at the time is ‘the right thing’ – that time and reflection tell us all was definitely NOT the right thing.
In Australia, we had the situation where indigenous children were removed from their families and their lands, to ostensibly give them a brighter future with regards to health and education. We are aware nowadays of the intense trauma and unending damage this caused to both the children and their families – but to the people in authority at the time, it was a decision made with surely the best intentions. But it was a wrong decision, that history has now proven.
It is – by a long margin – not the only harm we have done to our first peoples, in our history of thinking we know what is right.
In the current ‘cancel culture’ climate we look back critically on some things which, in today’s world, would be deemed too politically, culturally, racially or gender sensitive to be considered acceptable. A comedy show or a book which reflected the attitudes of the time in which it originated is written off and removed from our view.
What do you see when you look at books like the ones in my photo? When you listen to very popular music by one of the many artists whose personal life has since been subject to speculation or court cases?