The Past Still Defines Our Future

By Douglas Hardman

There’s a famous quote by Tennessee Williams: “The past keeps getting bigger and bigger at the future’s expense.” We are normally told to let the past be in the past and burn the bridges. However, there are some very crucial moments in history that we need to never forget because once we forget them, history repeats itself.
The year 2014 was, honestly, a year of brutal tragedy and upset. We witnessed police brutality up close and personal with the Mike Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, and the harsh facts on transgender/LGBTQ+ bullying after the suicide of the young, transgender teen, Leelah Alcorn. Many tears were shed over the loss of many “celebrities,” but the most tragic was Robin William’s suicide after years of battling depression. Also, in world news, 234 Nigerian girls were kidnapped after a school was attacked, which sparked the #BringOurGirlsBack movement.
We are defined by tragedy. It brings out a very vulnerable, very fragile state of the human condition. Devastation, frustration and hurt all boil to the surface. When we see injustice happen, when we see suicide, we get passionate. The Ferguson shooting sparked mass riots, not just in Missouri, but also in New York and Washington, D.C. When Leelah took her own life after being constantly mistreated, misgendered and bullied, we suddenly became LGBTQ+ activists.
The only problem that I see arising: people are forgetting. We cannot leave these events in 2014 as if they didn’t exist. I know protests for Ferguson are still occurring, but Leelah Alcorn and the 234 Nigerian girls also cannot be forgotten.  The #BringOurGirlsBack movement is slowly dying, but those girls are still missing.
We need to remember these tragedies and keep on fighting against the causes of them. We need to be aware of the suicide rate and bullying statistics for the LGBTQ+ community. We need to be aware of mental disorders and stop treating these legitimate medical issues as if they are a joke. We need to be aware of corrupt police officers and injustice toward the black community in America. We need to be aware of global tragedies so we can understand what’s truly going on in the world, not just what our news stations tell us.
Being active in these causes is very important, because without support, they are lost. And then we relive them just a few months or a couple of years down the road. When will the cycle stop? When will we stop racial discrimination? When will we open our eyes to true human equality? The tragedy is not going to all stop overnight, or because some guy wrote an opinions article on it, but we have to start somewhere.
Please, do not ever give up on these causes. We need to fight the problem, not ignore it. The more we turn a blind eye to the problems in our world, the more power we give to the abusers. Show Ferguson, show Leelah, and show those 234 Nigerian girls that they are not forgotten. Show the world that they are not forgotten and that they will never be forgotten.