The above article was posted on Malaysia Today at the following link:-
15/08: We do not own, nor are we owned by history
Here is a response from a reader which I thought was good.
Although I agree with you "generally", I must say that there is some good to knowing one's heritage.
Whether we like it or not, "Man is a social Animal" - and as such, we have this inherent need for "identity". Lack of it may lead to confusion or poor assimilation to society.
Let us differentiate between pride, prejudice and chauvinism. While the latter two are dangerous, let us not look down on the former.
Knowing, and taking pride in one's heritage is good, as it gives one a sense of identity, especially in the "growing up years". It reminds us not to take things for granted, and it also reminds us of our potential in life. As such, it inspires us to perform in the face of challenges, trials and tribulation.
No doubt, one can do without it - but at the end of the day, we are all human, and some of us respond better to myths about heroes and past achievements/ civilizations. It has a morale boosting effect on the children, the "less enlightened" and more "intellectually challenged" due due the "awe effect".
Moreover, it provides one with ability to associate oneself and identify oneself with a certain group of people and enable one to create an intangible bond that makes it easier to build trust.
Last but not least, although many academicians deny it, "race" is a product of evolution thru centuries/ millennia, and each race has its own peculiar characteristics. The ability to recognize and preserve the positive, while relinquishing the negative is what has brought about the progress of humanity.
So, let us take pride in the positive values and achievements - even if it didn't "belong to us". Let us embrace all achievements of humanity so as to promote the spirit of brotherhood, while preserving "our" heritage.
Let us not get swept away with this global "wave of progress". After all, the future is not for us to see - we never know when "Babylon" or "Rome" would fall.