Are you ready to go back to Titanic?
That is the question the leader of the expedition asks Rose prior to her recounting her account of traveling on Titanic’s maiden and only voyage.
Earlier this week a group of descendants of Titanic survivors and history buffs left England following the same route that the ill-fated ship took to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the famous ships sinking on April 15th.
This is hardly the only reenactment occurring this year. The United States is currently marking the 150th anniversary of the Civil War; which is accompanied by many reenactments of famous battles. Not to mention the many reenactments that occur daily of the western expansion and colonial living.
I bring this to light because I am wondering about what it says about our society that we are constantly trying to recreate the events of the past as opposed to living in the present and looking to the future.
There is nothing wrong with remembering these events, indeed it is in studying these events of the past, that we can learn from them and apply those lessons to today. But that land that is currently being preserved because a Civil War battle was fought on it, is that really the best use for it? Could it not be better used to build homes, or hospitals, or factories, or some other facility that could benefit society as a whole?
There is certainly a benefit to showing children places where history occurred, but once an event occurs, is that land, or space, or part of the ocean off limits for all times and people because at some time an event occurred there that someone thinks we need to remember forever, and that can only be remembered by leaving that space permanently empty?
It is interesting to note that one place where this is more of an issue that anywhere else in the world is in Israel; which has places sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians. Setting aside the others, Christians have many places in Israel where important things happened in the faith, particularly the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, His journey to the cross through Jerusalem, His crucifixion on Calvary and His resurrection.
And yet if you were to go to Israel to see these places, each one has the caveat that these places are where we think these things happened. When Jesus was born, the stable was not immediately closed off with a museum built around it; neither when Jesus rose was Calvary or the tomb closed off as immediate sacred spaces.
Now you can say that some of this was due to the culture not realizing the immediate significance of the events and the early days of a fledgling religion not having the resources to buy the land on which the sacred spaces were located.
But I believe that they realized that the importance of the events was not based in the place, it was based on knowing what happened and why it happened.
Do we need a museum to mark every event in the history of the world? I doubt it. We do need to remember these events, and their place in history; but we can do that in a far more limited fashion than is happening today through books, plaques, and videos. All of which has been done for Titanic, the Civil War and countless other historical events.
It worked for the early Christian Church; why can’t it work today?