Some Monuments I’d Like to See

The Nazi violence in Charlottesville has had one positive backlash—

(Dinah Rogers/European Pressphoto Agency)the taking down of Confederate monuments on a mass scale.  I’m all for it—as they glorify a system of brutal racism and oppression. And if it leads on to downing Washington and Jefferson, as the the racist-in-chief warns could happen, well, maybe that would be a good thing. Most monuments glorify war leaders and politicians, and maybe it would do us good as a country to take them all down, wipe the slate clean, and decide on a different set of values we might want to revere.

In any case, the public squares of our country are now dotted with empty plinths begging to be filled.

I would like some monuments in every town to heroic child care workers, those dedicated women and men and gender-fluid folks who tend children not their own, wipe their noses, comfort their tears, and prevent them from beaning other children with toy trucks.  How about a Caregiver’s Monument, honoring those selfless souls who love and care for someone with Alzheimers or ALS or any debilitating disease?  Could we have some statues of people who stop on the freeway and help stranded motorists change tires?

Or if its history you want, let’s get rid of the dudes with the swords on horseback and raise up some statues to the true and awesome heraism of the mothers who gave birth under slavery and nurtured children they could not protect from abuse, from sale down the river, from separation and abandonment, yet gave them the love that formed a core of strength to survive.

 

How about honoring the courage of the immigrants, not just the Pilgrims but the potato-famine immigrants, the ones who came fleeing the pogroms and the Chinese workers who built the railroads, all the ones who do the low-paid, thankless jobs that actually make life better for other people, the housecleaners, farmworkers, day laborers, nurses?

But whoa, let’s back up here—before we do that, how about honoring the original indigenous nations whose territories our neighborhoods are built upon?  And make them commemorations not of battles but of the fortitude and beauty of  everyday life—gathering acorns, showing a child how to use a bow, preparing food, singing in prayer.  Or, if you truly feel white people are neglected, why not commemorate the peasant rebels or the Witches who died in the flames?

Too depressing?  What about some statues of animals?  Not just war horses, but a big, faithful, affectionate poodle or two, some cats, a dolphin, and a lot of endangered species.  I’d like to see a monument to a hundred of the best healing herbs, or a rosebush, or the humble earthworm who does so much to create fertility in the land.

 What would our cities, our towns, our psyches be like if instead of worshiping heroes of violence and power we revered images of life, of everyday acts of kindness and caring, of nourishing and nurturing and human resilience?

It is possible that violence is sometimes necessary in this brutal world, but do we have to put it up on a pedestal and make it something to aspire to?

Take them all down, I say—every bronze conqueror and warlord, and give me one simple statue of a goodhearted person holding out an open hand to welcome a stranger. 

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5 comments to Some Monuments I’d Like to See

  • Marsha Waggoner

    I was just talking with my sister about this today. We have got to stop glorifying war and violence, and getting rid of these monuments that celebrate war is the first step. Let’s start celebrating something worth celebrating. Let’s revere those among us who demonstrate genuine courage, compassion, and kindness. That would be truly “revolutionary.”

  • Indeed! We must honor the good, gracious, compassionate humans and stop the had and ego trip of those who are mean spirited.

  • Heather

    What a beautiful and worthy idea!!!

  • I love this, Starhawk. Yes! We could start reminding ourselves of those best human qualities that promote and sustain life, and we can set the record straight for our fellow Americans whom we’ve abused in the past. When that happens, a whole green valley and blue sky of the soul will open for all of us.

    Great post@

  • Trudy

    I would like to see a monument of Caitlin Johnstone, the most courageous woman of our time.

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