Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical
hermionesviolin

why history matters

From [personal profile] ephemere's post "Patalim" (trigger warning for descriptions of violence):

Freedom is not forgetting. And forgetting is not freedom. Look at what the loss of our memory has done to us. Look at it, and ask me whether we are better off acting as if the atrocities of the wars and colonizations never happened, as if we have no need for vigilance because the exertion of political and economic will of a foreign power over us cannot happen again, as if we have learned the lessons of the past so thoroughly we will be sure to fight for our rights and the rights of our people to speak and live free, as if we have so fully realized all the evils and all the complexities of power differentials and the abuse of wealth and the exploitation of resources and knowledge and people that we can now equip ourselves to fight against it, as if we recognize the importance of having and claiming our identities and our dignity and the burden and glory that is our history, as if we no longer stumble through the debris and ruin of so many broken institutions and fault ourselves for our own weakness and our own brokenness and the fact that we are not as good and wise and wonderful and wealthy as our former colonial masters. Look at it. Look at how well we have erased the graves, how so many of us go about our daily lives as if there are not more of us being killed every day, how we continue blithely on, the struggles our parents and grandparents and ancestors suffered through mere footnotes in the pages of our books, certainly things that no longer matter in this progressive story of the Philippines in 2010. Look at it, and go on. Ask me.

I don't want to erase this blood staining my legacy. I don't want to forget, as if it never happened. I don't want to keep coming across, "I didn't know the Philippines was a U.S. colony!" as if I do not bear the damage of American occupation written in my nerves and across my tongue. I don't want to see "deathmarching" used as a verb, the same way I deplore how "imeldific" is used as an adjective -- as if history were an erasable thing and words slipping into common parlance an apology or a healing of all these wounds. I don't want people to go on using this in a misguided attempt to remove the blood in it, because forgetting is what gives the evil behind this more power, by allowing the word to go unchallenged and slip under the veneer of acceptability, lightness, cheapening, banality. I don't want the atrocities of war to become equated with mundane things.

I don't want common use. I don't want a sanitized history. I want my stories, past and present, these stories of my people that we have lost and that we're on the verge of losing, held close to my heart and remembered. I want these stories told over and over again, because the need for them will never lift, not the necessity for memory and not the blatant spitting on the dignity of it. I want to claim them though I may choke on tears and tongue in doing so, though I surrender on so many other things daily and remain one frail and weak person still grappling with the fractures in her present and in her past. Because this, too, is part of who I am. Because every story told and every careless use challenged is defiance, is struggle, is me raising my head and saying, this happened, this matters -- is yet another blow against erasure, silence, the unmarking of graves.

[For more, especially on the specific incident that prompted this, check out, for example, fiction_theory/megwrites' post -- links go to LJ/DW, respectively.  Also, manifesta.]
Tags: issues, issues: history
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