Our future history is not set in stone. It is shaped by what we do and how we treat others. What will you do today that might help shape your future history?
“It’s down to all of us to write our future history and that happens today, here in the present. We may not end up with our names in lights, but what we do and how we make people feel will be remembered.”
I love these words. For each of us, our future history is far from set in stone. No matter what we have done before nor how long we have lived, our future history continues to be shaped by what we do and how we conduct ourselves. What will you do today that might help shape your future history, our future history? What will you do and how will you make people feel today? How will people remember you?
The words that have inspired my post today were written by my friend Dr Paul Taylor-Pitt, at the start of this month. They come from Instalment 38 of his excellent and ongoing Postcards from the Edge of Employment series. Paul’s postcards provide a generous insight into his thoughts and experiences during a roughly year-long odyssey of exploring what lies beyond the world of “conventional” (for want of a better word) employment.
This particular instalment recounts some feelings and thoughts relating to the ageing process. They are in part prompted by Dr Taylor-Pitt’s upcoming 50th birthday (I can relate, what with my own 50th looming in early March 2023 – so even sooner than Paul’s).
Writing during the current LGBT+ History Month, Paul describes his mixed feelings at being asked by a younger person “why I was still campaigning for LGBTQ+ equality” in 2023. He felt happiness “that this (young) person had never known a time when their rights as an LGBTQ+ person in this country weren’t pretty much the same as everyone else”. But happiness was not the only emotion Paul experienced:
“I felt sad that our history is consigned to the past and already covered in a thick layer of dust. In some ways, I feel like history is repeating itself with mutterings of a new kind of Section 28 rising zombie-like from the grave, and the vile anti-trans rhetoric using the same old arguments previously aimed at gay folk. I have, I admit, questioned why we need LGBT+ History Month. For the first time, I really felt and understood why on a soul level. I lived through that history. Please let’s not forget it.”
Section 28* and all that it represented deserves to be consigned to history. But this part of our history should and must never be forgotten. We can learn from the mistakes of the past, so that we can avoid repeating them today and tomorrow.
A wider world
Some 35 years ago, Section 28 was in a way responsible for opening my eyes to a wider world. I have written about this before, in my 2016 post Be kind while there is still time:
“A moment’s personal history. It might sound silly or slight, but the awakening of my interest in gay rights came with the publication of a comic called AARGH! in 1988. As a comics nerd, I was excited to read it as it brought together the absolute cream of comics talent at that time (Alan Moore, Brian Bolland, Dave Sim, Bill Sienkiewicz and dozens more). But AARGH! had a purpose. AARGH! was an acronym for Artists Against Rampant Government Homophobia. This collective was formed in protest at Section 28 of the Local Government Act – a piece of legislation intended to prevent the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality by local authorities.
“Section 28 actively sought to curtail freedom of speech with the aim of attacking a specific group within society.
The words and images in AARGH! opened my eyes to an issue about which I’d probably never even thought up to that point. It made me a lifelong proponent of gay rights. It also reinforced for me the need for free speech, always.”
What we do today to help shape our future history matters. What we did in the past to help shape both today and our future history matters just as much. Our past, our history, is rich with lessons that current and future generations can learn from. By remembering and helping others learn from the past – the bad old days as well as the good – we can help to make our future richer, better.
What will you do today that might help shape your future history, our future history? What will you do and how will you make people feel today? How will people remember you?
May you be nothing but kind today, to yourself and to others.
May today be nothing but kind to you and yours.
* If you’ve not heard of Section 28 before, please read this Guardian article from when it was finally repealed in 2003 (yes, 2003!). And Wikipedia reminds us that none other than David Cameron attacked Tony Blair over his plans to repeal Section 28, back in 2000.
- RAINBOW ABOVE MONO LAKE. THE HEAVY SALINE CONTENT OF THIS LAKE CREATES TUFA “TOWERS” (POROUS ROCK FORMATIONS) NEAR… – NARA – 543124 via Wikimedia Commons.
- Section 28 Rainbow Plaque via Wikimedia Commons.
- (Barcelona) A Rainbow, with Cattle – William Turner – Tate Britain via Wikimedia Commons.
- Photographers expand horizons in 2010 Army Digital Photography Contest 110311 (5548057626) via Wikimedia Commons.