Thursday, June 16, 2011

What to Save What to Let Go

The nasty side effect of having an open mind is the frequent imperative to change it in light of new information. I spend an inordinate amount of time saying, "You were right. I was wrong."
Last night I had to admit to my sci-fi book club that the book I boycotted on principle was really good after I  read it.

Yesterday afternoon I had to tell my son that I was being too fussy about the wrong something while he was being perfectly reasonable about the more important and safer something. I'll be glad when he turns 9. There's way more dignity in a daily admission that you are wrong to someone who is almost 10 than to someone who was 7 not very long ago.

And now I am confronted with a stickler on one of my long-held beliefs.

I am a pretty staunch preservationist. Or so I thought. I grew up in an historic neighborhood with a castle across the street and a Civil War monument on the corner. I have roller skated on cobblestones. I anthropomorphized a century old house at 5, lived in multiple19th century and early 20th century homes, and (according to my darling mama) only attended institutions of higher learning that were architecturally stunning.

The S word is "sprawl." The D word is "demolition." The F words are " another @#$% suburban planned community", "another @#$% strip mall", and "another @#$% Wawa, CVS, WalMart, fast food restaurant, etc.".

So imagine my surprise when I read the recent list of endangered, historically significant places and felt a little doubt in my preservationist bones. The doubt comes from that durn open mind of mine.

The doubt creeped in with Fort Gaines which has lost 400 feet due to erosion. I am all for the preservation of civil war and revolutionary battlefields.They can become stunning green spaces and, in the midst of constant urban encroachment, a green quiet space reminding us of the past is positive on so many levels.

As a pacifist, I also appreciate them as a constant reminder of the horror of war in one's own country as well as a reminder of my imperfect pacifism.

Would I have wanted the Revoliutionary War to have ended differently? Not at all. Have I yet to figure out a way that could have been resolved by our ancestors without armed resistance? Nope. The battlefields are places that keep me chewing on my philosphical contradictions. Not to mention that they honor the dead, the wounded, and the ones who were left behind which is a practice close to my heart.

But erosion. Well, in some ways it is natural. In other ways it is our punishment for our rapacious lust for modernization at the expense of the earth. Either way... it is a sign for change.

In a world of limited resources I believe we should not waste time on reality television, selfish lovers, waxy chocolate, ugly shoes, non-organic lawn care, nor stopping the erosion of a battlefield for history's sake. For ecological reasons - sure. For national pride - I don't think so.

But then again, I could be wrong. It happens with painful frequency. Check out the endangered places link and let me know the ones that make you think twice.


Phoebe said...

I'm glad to know that I wasn't the only one who thought that.

The Jotter said...

You can count on me to share your brain.