Every now and then we look around and realise that most people have subtly changed their memory of their personal history. This happened recently with equal marriage in Europe & N.America. One day we looked around and found that virtually everyone was in favour of equal marriage, and most people believed that they always had been. Sure, there are a few people around who are still against it, but fortunately I don’t meet them. Most people think that they’ve been marching with Stonewall all of their lives.
We find the same thing happened with Apartheid. One day (probably in the mid 1990’s) we looked around and found that most people were anti-apartheid, and thought that they’d always been anti-apartheid. When Mandela died even David Cameron claimed to have been anti-apartheid despite having worked for a pro-apartheid S.African Parliamentary group at the end of the 80’s.
I call it ‘Claim or Shame Day’, it’s the day when most of us either claim to have always been on the side of progress, or we keep quiet out of our own personal shame.
I don’t think Claim or Shame is duplicitous, nor false – I think that rewriting of self history is a healthy ego response mechanism.
There are many examples of claim or shame from earlier generations: standing against institutionalised racism, sexism and child abuse in the 70’s, fighting for civil rights in the 50’s & 60’s, fighting against the Nazis in the 40’s, fighting for equal votes for women etc etc.
I wonder when Claim or Shame Day is coming for the killing of children who play football on beaches ? I wonder when we will all subtly rewrite our personal histories of what we did on the 17th July 2014 ?
with apologies to Pastor Niemoller:
“and then they came for the children who play football on beaches,
but I didn’t speak out because I was not a child playing football on the beach”.