Friday, July 19, 2013

Ancient History

With very little fanfare, HM Queen Elizabeth II gave her assent to the same-sex marriage law in London last week, making same-sex marriage legal in England and Wales. Both Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own parliaments and will debate such laws on their own. While LGBTQ people and their allies around the UK and the world greeted this event with fabulous enthusiasm and pride, I received an innocuous, yet puzzling message from someone who has been a staunch supporter of mine in terms of equality and my new life post-divorce. The message alluded to the queen as a horrible person thinking she could wipe away all her disgusting acts with a stroke of a pen.

While I am trying to learn not to get into the head of another person, as there's so much chatter going on in my own, this truly puzzled me. I first sat down and asked myself what horrible deeds has she, or her government, done after her ascension in 1952? The only things that come to my mind are the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the Falklands War, and Britain's involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So, I went back even further in history and yes, I did come up with some horrible deeds, but these all happened before she was even born. So, is she responsible for the actions of her ancestors? I don't think so. Successors to every government would have to then be held accountable for the deeds of their predecessors. Can, and should, current governments be held accountable for the past? One could also argue children are then responsible for the events of their parents as their successors.

History is replete with despicable events. Every war is despicable. Colonization brings a host of tragedies to the colonized people. Newly formed governments of former colonies are often no better than the original colonizers. All of these events have one thing in common, innocent victims. And often the stories of these innocent victims gets lost as time marches on.

I believe it is important for the victims to tell their stories; first, for their own recovery and then for the rest of us to learn. For those who do not learn from the past are doomed (destined?) to repeat it. And these atrocities must not be repeated.

(Note: I could mention several horrific events from history, but I will not, except for one, for fear out of appearing to omit a particular group due to a perceived bias. See, I'm getting into your head.)

The pink triangle was the badge given to gay men in the camps.
In 1945, when the liberating armies reached the concentration camps in Nazi Germany, all prisoners were released, except for one group; homosexual men. They were left behind to finish out their sentences, and to clean up the camps. Some men who were released, were re-arrested on charges stemming from before their original arrest. It wasn't until the 1980's these men were even acknowledged by the German government to having been imprisoned at all.

Without appearing to be callous to the sufferings of victims of any atrocity, history is history. It's over. Let us be where we are and move forward. Let us help the victims to move forward as best we can and then let history be.

I'm not exactly sure what HM Queen Elizabeth could do to make up for the past deeds of her predecessors. I'm not sure what any government could do to make it up to the people their predecessors had wronged. Yet, perhaps a simple acknowledgment of what happened could be enough.

My ex announced his wish for a divorce in an email he sent me while we were in the house together. He had come to this decision on his own without talking to me about these feelings he'd had for over a year. It hurt. Badly. Things he's said and done after have added to the hurt. If he were to crawl here from his new home on the east coast to acknowledge how much he has hurt me, to take that responsibility, would it change what has actually happened between us? No. Would it help me to come to terms with our own history? I don't know.

But, I'd appreciate the gesture.

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