Past, present and future

For many years I have been learning about the past and thinking about the future, related to a number of topics. Mainly trying to understand the true history of our country and its cultures. One of the first lessons I learned is the history we were taught in school leaves out a great deal. And what is included has been rewritten to conform to the author/teacher’s worldview. Which leaves out most of what is negative and emphasizes what is positive, again from their viewpoint.

Some of those topics are what the land that is now called the United States was like before the colonization by white European settlers.

What the Indigenous beliefs and practices were, and continue to be. How the land was stolen by white Europeans and how the Doctrine of Discovery was used to try to justify that. How attempts were made to force native children to deny their identities and adopt the settlers’ ways.

And the whole sordid history of capturing and enslaving “African” Americans. The years of creating racial terror by lynching thousands.  Modern day racial terror of police killing of unarmed people of color. Continuing to treat people of color as somehow inferior to so called white people to this day.

On the streets we often say “no justice, no peace.”  I do not believe we can have peace until we confront the injustices of the past and present. People who consider themselves white must get past their fear of confronting these past and current injustices before we can move closer to peace for us all.

The future has long been on my mind because we are on a path toward no future, i.e. extinction of humans, because of the unfolding environmental chaos. Here again we have to get past our fear of what we are facing. We will only be able to work on solutions after we confront our current situation.

One of the reasons I’ve been thinking so much about the past, present and future, is because I have come to believe that our only hope for the future can be found in Indigenous Peoples way of life, that honors the sacred connections between us and Mother Earth, and between each other.

What I appreciate about my Quaker faith is the belief that God continues to be a force today. That if we listen closely we can hear what the Spirit is teaching us, and asking us to do at this moment in time. We have to have the courage to do what the Spirit is telling us. We can’t find the way forward by continuing to live as we are now. The Spirit can lead us in a new way.

Many people have written about the past, present and future:

  • The past, the present, and the future are really one: they are today. Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • The distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion. Albert Einstein
  • If you ae depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.  Lao Tzu
  • Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it present. Bil Keane
  • The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life. Thich Nhat Hanh
  • The past is your lesson. The present is your engine. The future is your motivation.
  • The meeting of two eternities, the past and future… is precisely the present moment. Henry David Thoreau
  • Life is the past, the present and the perhaps. Bette Davis
  • The wise form right judgment of the present from what is past. Sophocles
  • You can’t really live in the past because the present is always present. John Benjamin Hickey
  • The only use of knowledge of the past is to equip us for the present. Alfred North Whitehead
  • The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was and the present worse than it is.  Aysayko
  • The past is behind, learn from it. The future is ahead, prepare for it. The present is here, live it. Thomas S Monson
  • The present is determined by our past actions, and the future by the present. Swami Vivkananda
  • The past is only the present become invisible and mute; and because it is invisible and mute, its memorized glances and its murmurs are infinitely precious. We are tomorrow’s past. Mary Webb
  • The past is never the past. It is always present. And you better recon with it in your life and in your daily experience, or it will get you. It will get you really bad. Bruce Springsteen
  • The past not merely is not fugitive, it remains present. Marcel Proust
  • I always live in the present. The future I can’t know. The past I no longer have. Fernando Pessoa
  • Live in the present and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering. Ida Scott Taylor
  • The past is always with us, for it feeds the present. Ruskin Bond
  • History dies without the present. There is no future without the path made to it by the past. Aidan Chambers
  • When the past is forgotten, the present is unforgettable. Martin Amis
  • The past is always a rebuke to the present. Robert Penn Warren
  • The whole past is the procession of the present. Thomas Carlyle
  • The present is the necessary product of all the past, the necessary cause of all the future. Robert Green Ingersoll
  • From your past emerges the present, and from the present is born your future. Muhammad Iqbal
  • The present is our future past, we’ve gotta make this moment last. Sabrina Carpenter
  • Learn the past, watch the present, and create the future. Jess Conrad
  • I don’t have a past. I have a continuous present. The past is part of the present, just as the future is. We exist in time. George Balanchine
  • Nostalgia is like a grammar lesson: you find the present tense, but the past perfect!  Owen Lee Pomeroy
  • Never let the sadness of your past and the fear of your future ruin the happiness of your present.
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