Our heritage and its symbols are a two-sided sword. On one side it is the things that make us great, on the other side it is the things that perpetuates our problems. Approaching heritage from a pragmatic view means knowing the difference and throwing off the bad side while keeping the good.
I’m sure you, like I, can come up with dozens of examples of things we hold on to as our heritage that is actually doing us damage, perhaps eventually destruction. The most immediate example of this for us Americans is the Confederate Flag that has finally been taken off the last State flag. It is the last figurative remnant of our slave owning heritage. It represents a war that senselessly killed more Americans that all the wars since. Like the German death camps of WWII, we need to remember those days, but we don’t need to even unintentionally celebrate them. The Confederate flag is like the swastikas of Hitler’s Germany. Since the flag was based on one human being owning another it should have disappeared with that practice.
We are not the only country that still clings to our dark side. India’s Caste System and African Apartheid are others. India’s government officially denounced its caste system in 1948 but, like our Confederate heritage it is still prominent in the country. It is founded centuries ago on an ancient Indian belief that at birth every Indian citizen is put into one of five different classes. The possibility of ever escaping your designated class was virtually non-existent.
The caste system still remains a significant factor in deciding everything in India from family ties and cultural traditions to educational and economic opportunities, especially in small towns and villages, where more than 70% of Indians live. Nearly a third of the lowest designated class still make less than $2 a day, and many don’t have access to education or even running water. Hate crimes against Dalits , which is the lowest class, have increased significantly in recent years.
Getting back to the basic theme of this post, we need to constantly be aware of how inequality still plays out in the world. As I have stated many times before here at RJsCorner one of my most basic beliefs is that EVERYONE in the world has an inalienable right to live up to their potential. Putting destructive artificial barriers in the path of that happening diminishes us all. Any heritage, no matter how long it has been around, should be thrown away if it gets in the way of letting everyone reach their maximum potential.