Bicentennial (1) History and Legacy
We are preparing to commemorate 200 years of Mexican independence. It’s a good time to stop and ask ourselves how things are going in our country.
With this in mind, over the next few months, I will share some thoughts here with topics ranging from history and patrimony to freedom and responsibility, democracy, government, the economy, public finances and education.
Let’s start with history. The Mexican writer and philosopher Alfonso Reyes’s once said, “History is asking questions of the past to know what is going on in the present.”
Using this definition, history is not just a simple memory game filled with monuments, dates or ideas from the past, but a way of understanding our world today. What a shame that our out-of-date educational system doesn’t see it this way!
How many cases have we seen of entire peoples who are absorbed by others and disappear because they didn’t understand their roots? To avoid that and understand our identity, we must preserve and make known our historic legacy.
In this sense, it is very sad to see how our plazas, monuments and historic buildings are in a state of increasing decay: cracked, unpainted, and full of garbage. And since the authorities don’t do much about it, I’m inviting you to participate in the campaign Limpiemos Nuestro México anti-litter campaign.
But we mustn’t stop there. It’s useless to study and preserve history if we let it become a simple myth. What went before is important for understanding what has happened. So, when we see the mistakes that have been made, we can avoid making them again and again, something a lot more common than we think.
Globalization forces us to evolve without losing our essence. What can be very dangerous is avoiding change under the pretext of preserving our “culture” and “traditions” as we invoke our national heroes. The present brings us up against very different situations. It’s unacceptable to hide behind history to elude our responsibility for thinking and finding solutions to today’s problems.
Friedrich Nietzsche said, “Only he who builds the future has the right to judge the past.” History allows us to understand today, but it’s much more important for it to let us to build the future.
We Mexicans are responsible for our destiny. We build it, sometimes making the right choice and many other times making mistakes, but always in freedom. Without hiding behind it, let us learn from our history to build a future responsibly: that is our obligation to the coming generations.