Is reconstructing our past more important than building our future?

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We often hear that 'the past is past, don't bother about it'. But actually, the past is not only the past, but also it is the foundation of our future. Every moment is going to be past. It is the only reality that we can know. Future and present are mere constructions. Everything is being examined on the basis of past, future and present. Past is a set of experiences, events and beliefs that someone or something confronted with. It is always with us. Everything has a past and that past constitutes the essence of its present and future. It can be said that history is the collection of recorded past events in the form of written documents, monuments, oral discourses etc. But, the past is beyond these historical remains.


Our thoughts, perspectives and social structure have all evolved over the years. It is our past that transforms us and determines our social life. Our value system, culture, principles,  ideologies etc are inherited by the past. But, everything needs a constructive evolution. These constructive changes are brought about by reconstruction. Reconstruction refers to the objective and theoretical interpretation or expression of an existing thing in a more efficient and subtle way. By eliminating obsolescence and making the necessary changes and strengthening the foundation of one, more things would be built on top of it.  This is also the goal of reconstructing the past.  This is how the future should be built.


Our historical understanding, to some extent, is based on interpretation.  It is different for different people. People even twist history to suit their own interests and needs.  Historical study always tries to project some events, people, ideas etc. There are people, facts and events which have been concealed and forgotten. This is an injustice to our past and future. The reconstruction of the past only can reveal what is forgotten, manipulated and what is unspoken by the existing history. It is through the reconstruction of the past, the life of marginalized and oppressed people and community comes to the forefront. Many more such examples are there. New ideas arise from re-reading and redefining the past.  That is how hidden and obscured ideas can be found. By reconstructing, we also learn to unlearn.


New thoughts and systems cannot be formed overnight. It is subject to change and reconstruction over the centuries and generations. We cannot say that the past is always constructive and beneficial. Progress is being made by identifying faulty systems. Many things that were once considered right and socially good are now considered as reactionary and unprogressive. For example, once untouchability was a prevailing practice in our society which was considered as a normal thing. But later, the practice of untouchability is abolished and now we know how ridiculous it is. This realization is the product of reconstruction. This sort of change can be seen in all areas of life such as culture, cinema, environment, caste, religion, gender, language etc. What we firmly believe to be right and wrong today may not be like that tomorrow. Reconstruction aims at deconstruction also.


Future is created through rectifying the mistakes of our past by maintaining its positive aspects. It is determined by the realizations gained through the past experiences. Therefore, it is essential to have a proper sense of past and history. Here lies the relevance of the reconstruction of the past. The future can only be built by a proper understanding of the past. We must be able to embrace what is progressive and reject what is irrational and biased. Thus, it would be better to say that reconstructing our past is the foundation for building our future instead of reconstructing our past is more important than building our future. Yes, the past is past, but it continues.

-Arathi Nair K G

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