The ever-increasing cold of winter warns of the end of another year. When I photographed the old film exchange building, it seemed that the warnings were coming of it’s end, too. There was a chance of it being saved and, in an attempt to bring attention to that potential, I was asked to document the structure. It was not long before this piece of forgotten history was demolished.
Where other efforts which have borrowed my photographic skills have succeeded in breathing life into seemingly hopeless situations, this one would ultimately fail. It was not long before the tired, old building was torn down despite the arguments presented for giving it new life. In this particular instance, history verifies that the public was mislead as to the future of this property. When demolished in 2015, it was to give way to the MAPS 3 Downtown Public Park. Instead, that property is part of the larger footprint for a new convention center.
This isn’t a discussion of city politics, historic buildings, or evolving plans. Instead, I want to put a keen eye on how easily we have forgotten history. “Forgive and forget,” is the worn out cliché we use to help us overlook such trespasses. Forgiveness is generally a good thing. There is a reason that forgetting is difficult and, in many cases, is harmful.
Forgiveness includes an understanding between parties to avoid repeating an error. If we forget, we ignore the clear signs of it happening again. We surrender our ability to pull someone back from the brink of a repeated transgression. If we are truly to forget, at what point do we stop forgiving at all?
From personal experience, forgiving is relatively easy. Forgetting is painfully hard. I believe there is a reason for this. It is not so that we can lord mistakes over each other’s heads. Not at all. I believe it is so that we can say, “Remember last time?”
Instead of forgotten history, let’s remember the past mistakes just enough to make for a better future.