I’ve been writing historical fiction and working on my historical nonfiction project at the same time as the unfolding of the most bizarre political events of our time. It’s all given me new windows into what the past means to me, personally, and why it matters. Growing up in India, I always had the sense that the American civil rights movement was a natural, inevitable validation of peace and justice. Of Gandhi. Of everything I grew to hold dear. Freedom. The end of colonialism. Human rights. Equality. You know. Those kinds of things. The things all human beings ought to be be able to take for granted.
Now, in the 21st century, I’m finding a new reason for why history matters. It matters because you can’t ever feel you’ve won the battle against human meanness, insularity, cruelty, and injustice. Look at this page from John Lewis’s heartbreakingly beautiful graphic memoir, March: Volume 3. It is indeed. Last week I spoke to kids on the BC mainland about voting and rights and taking a stand–for trees, for people. It matters more than ever.