News24 recently ran a story that made me a little angry, but mostly it made me think.
The story is of our police chief becoming angry because of an old national flag that a woman had placed on her desk at work, calling it “out of order”. This is clearly, to me at least, very short sighted and extremely ignorant on his part. Let me explain:
The flag in question was the old South African National flag, the “Prinsevlag”, which was our flag from 1928-1994. This flag was the National flag during the Apartheid regime and I’m sure that this is why the police chief was upset about it. It is reminiscent of a truly terrible time in South African history, but it is just that which makes it so important to be displayed.
We South Africans need to remember what has happened in this country to bring us where we are today. I would go so far as to say that the world needs to remember it. When I say remember here, I mean that we need to recall the actions and events, not judge those who were responsible nor those living now who aren’t responsible.
History is one of the most important things in this world. It is how we have managed to advance to this stage as a human race. By documenting past events, problems and solutions we have been able to teach new generations new concepts that have furthered us even more; we have been able to learn from previous mistakes and not repeat those in the attempts to find better solutions to some of the biggest problems that plague our society.
History has always been our teacher. We learn from our own mistakes and sometimes (on rare occasions) we learn from our friends’. We remember the past so that we don’t repeat it, thus preventing progress and ensuring stagnation.
We learn from the past; gain purpose from the present; whilst the future grants us hope.