In current civilization, one chooses to either live in the past or live in the future. It is as if, living in present time is taboo. The advocates of the past achievements would like to maintain historical achievements—considered more superior than anything of present time. The advocates of the future also appear as stuck on how the tomorrow would be, thereby invalidating the present time. Both are wrong.
A person with a sharp memory can be envied, viewed as an achiever in everything he/she does. At school those with sharp memories are recognized as super achievers, who easily qualify as wiz-kids. They are the straight A’s achievers. But the achievements that are based on sharp memory are not necessarily what counts for developmental programs.
The greatest achievers known in history are not necessarily those found to have had sharp memories, for instance. One of the most influential Scientists of all time, Isaac Newton—recorded as having had poor memory—can be a perfect example.
Great achievers occupy themselves with the present, being prone to forgetting everything, including their failings of the past. A forgetful person can be viewed as unintelligent, but may be the one coming up with brilliant solutions for future developmental programs.
The current civilization is sustained by unnecessary memories that go back to the time of Adam. All customs and traditions, as sustaining behavioral patterns of humanity, are viewed as important, but without proof of such importance. Whether intended for good or bad memory is the one that causes human failures.
For purposes of development, past hurtful feelings need to be discarded, though taking advantage of adopted experiences, necessary for the present time issues. Similarly, great achievements of the past need to be forgotten, completely, though taking advantage of the adopted experience for the present time.
Generally, the enemy of progress is the memories of the great achievements or failings of the past, whether for individuals or societies. Zimbabwe is currently stuck on memories associated with the experiences that led to the country’s independence.
Regarded as great achievers of the seventies, the war veterans served to bring our country to a stagnation. At ninety three years old, President Mugabe has support from sections of society, whose memories are stuck on what is considered to be Mugabe’s achievements, before thirty seven years ago.
That memory could, actually, remain for some considerable time, as the activities of that past event are recycled over and over again, on national radio and Television. That is for the purpose of ensuring that the minds of our youth are regurgitated with such memories for them to also remain stuck in the past. This comes from self-importance concocted by those who assumed the authority of being the bringers of our independence.
In Zimbabwe, the opposition’s endeavors are regarded as seeking to nullify the important history that led to our national independence. Obviously, progress cannot be given chance, under those circumstances. The evilness of memory will remain undetected, as Zimbabweans maul each other, due to accusations emanating from desire to sustain memories of past events. See [The curse of Memory]
The same can apply, where failings, or disadvantages of the past, can be kept in memory. There are those scared of doing anything different, due to envisioning possible failures, as experienced before. This also includes failure to forgive, thereby keeping grudges of the past. Without forgiving and forgetting, it is not possible to engage in developmental programs.
However, the curses of memory cannot be limited to ordinary human beings. These can also be observed in religious organizations. What sustains the orthodox Christianity and even some denominations with, generally weird teachings, are memories of the past events. Denominations are sustains by principles of memorable virtues, on things considered as commendable achievements by the respective founders of such denominations.
Orthodox Christianity is sustained by the historical Nicean Council of AD 325. Those in authority would not allow anyone to invalidate the historical achievements of the Nicean Council of AD325. Just like in our Zimbabwean scenario, no progress can be envisioned, except to remain in what is considered as the achievements of the liberation heroes.
The denominational phenomenon in Christianity is simply based on memory. Biographical histories of denominational founders would be replayed over and over again. Even the new members, get sold to the denominational achievements of the past. This holds, especially where comparisons are made with others in that environment.
It would not be possible, even for new members to bring up issues that could serve to extricate people from such enslavement. Complicated by the authoritarian culture, no room can be granted for the adherents to evaluate things independently. It would only be a great miracle for anyone to come out of such deceptions.
This describes how memory can bring evilness, even in Christianity. The scriptures that deal with the need to forget the past, are suppressed. The apostle Paul was inspired to write for our benefit, but the advocates of memory would just scheme through such Scriptures without taking them seriously:
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained” (Philippians 3:12-16) (ESV).
Take note of what Paul says in verse 16, “Only let us hold true to what we have attained.” The goal is to attain that which is good, but not being complacent as to suppose that there cannot be something better than what is supposed to be good, at any given time. In the entire passage of this Scripture, Paul is showing us that he is not the prisoner of the past achievements.
Paul presses on towards the goal of being like Jesus Christ, which cannot be easily attained in this life. What is most important is to appreciate growth in knowledge and grace (2 Peter 3:18). While the advocates of memory remain stuck in past achievements, Paul advises us to press on forward, learning new things, thereby, forgetting the past.
Only a sense of cowardice causes people to fail to test new grounds. Those stuck in good old days are their own worst enemies, yet can never accept being victims of such conditions. We are now living in information age. But most of the elderly people find internet intimidating, for instance. Here I mean people, who, during their prime times, would have been top leaders in what were highly successful corporate organizations.
Of course, those people would have been regarded as geniuses, but they become stuck as to be unable to move forward and take advantage of the technological advancements, for instance. As to why such people find it intimidating to explore new ideas, will remain a mystery.
But, the biggest suspect to the cause of this failure is pride. Great achievements make a person proud, thereby, assuming that his/her achievements cannot be matched with anyone. This is why it cannot be possible to teach someone who views him/herself as knowledgeable and above everyone else in the environment.
That person would naturally despise those with new knowledge, thereby, shooting down, or deliberately refusing to analyze newly proffered information. This is where God is not impressed with such behavior. God’s advice is that, as humans, we ought to always humble ourselves before the Lord, so that He would gently lift us up (James 4:10).
Great achievements of the past ought to be commended, but without forgetting that there will always be the future, with even better ideas. Jesus Christ encouraged people to remain in present time. Even being committed too much, for the future projects, can actually imprison the person concerned (Matthew 6:25-34).
But the future is actually shaped by the things we do today. Whatever it is that we do today, has an impact of what will hold tomorrow. Jesus Christ advised that we should seek first the Kingdom of God, as all the other concerns would then be taken care of.
What Jesus was talking about is that our relevance is in the present time. Not in the past nor in the future, which we have not control over, but we are expected to be providing services today. It is, therefore, important for each person, at any given time, to think in terms of value addition to other people, more than doing anything else.
Interestingly, while most people occupy themselves with the desire to do things that please God, the same God is not impressed by those things, but what the person does on each day. It is your thoughts and actions at each particular time, not what you did yesterday or any other time in the past:
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.” (Isaiah 43:18) (ESV).
“……..For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12) (ESV).
One of the attributes of our Lord is that He forgets, especially our sins. If it hadn’t been for His forgetfulness, I do not think any of us could ever make it into God’s Kingdom. For those living today, please be advised that God lives in present time.
The past should be viewed as what would have been necessary, only for our experiences, necessary to produce even better results. Speculations about the future may also be necessary, as long as the person recognizes that the future is determined by what one does today. But living in present time is what we are called to do, for God to use us as He wills. Otherwise this life is just as temporary as it is necessary to commit ourselves to doing what is good at any particular time of our survival.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99
Also available as an e-copy at Lulu.com for $6.99