Wednesday, July 15, 2020


All over the western world, angry people are a tearing down statues of famous people from the past, who are not perceived to be compromised, due to their racism, misogyny or some other sin. Other people are getting really upset about what they call the destruction of the past. However, the past is what it was and statues do not change it.

I would get rid of all statues, as they are redundant in our modern world. I will explain why.

In the past, the only way that a king or powerful person could ensure that they would be remembered was to put up a statue of themselves in the centre of an important city. Nearly every town in Europe has a statue of a king riding on a horse, put there in an attempt to prevent people from forgetting them. That mostly failed, because I noted that most people that I met knew nothing about the person in the statue, apart from what was engraved on the statue plinth. So, despite the statue, they really have been forgotten.

When I look at the statues scattered around the city where I live, I know very little about the men that were important during the city’s founding back in the 19th century. They are forgotten men, despite the statues.

These days, we do not need statues to remind us of important people from the past. The past is recorded in history books. If a person thinks they are important the best way to be sure that they are not forgotten is to have a biography written or a film made about them. Their activities are recorded in newspapers and television programmes. History will assess their contribution and record it, if it was really important. Benjamin Franklin summed this up well.

If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading or do things worth the writing.
We have history books now, so we do not need statues to remind us of people from the past who were important. The good thing about history books, it that they can be updated and corrected if more information about the important people comes to hand. If hindsight reveals that our heroes were morally flawed the history books can be updated.

The idea that destroying removing statues is an attack on our culture is a bit foolish. A statue cannot encapsulate the history of a nation. A statue cannot fully embody a culture. Most statues honour the winners of cultural wars so they often reflect a distorted view of history. On the other hand, culture exists in the hearts and minds of people, so it will can carry on even when all statues are gone.

A statue of a human, even if they were important leaders, verges on being an idol prohibited by the second commandment. We are not to honour the images created by men.

Statues are idolatrous and unnecessary, so I would remove them all. If people want to decorate their towns and cities, planting a tree or some bright-coloured flowers would be far more appropriate.

No comments: