“The lack of historical memory is a serious shortcoming in our society. A mentality that can only say, “Then was then, now is now”, is ultimately immature. Knowing and judging past events is the only way to build a meaningful future. Memory is necessary for growth.”

Pope Francis

I love my city, just not its airport. Lasting pandemic ripple effects now have all the travelers with expedited security going through only one terminal, seriously decreasing the expeditiousness. As I waited in the line I wasn’t supposed to wait in for a very early flight, I was jarred out of my half-awake state by the yelling of a passenger in front of me. She had been selected randomly for additional screening.

As the perturbed woman lamented about having to take her shoes off, the TSA agent offered curtly that there was nothing he could do. “You can’t even tell me why this is necessary, can you?” The passenger sniped. “Ma’am, do you remember 9/11?” The agent responded, “That’s why it’s necessary.” Awkwardly waiting to grab my bag, I glanced down to the floor hoping that that was the end of the exchange. Nope. “Oh shut up!” The woman yelled. “That was like 20 years ago!” Now everyone who was staring at their feet like me, picked their heads up with eyes wide with shock.

The agent walked off in frustration. The passenger scoffed, yanked her bag, and stomped out of the security area. The rest of us stood still for a moment that seemed like an eternity. Then the X-ray belt began to move, talking resumed, life moved on. As I sat at my gate processing what bothered me the most about the unnecessarily brutal exchange, I couldn’t shake the passenger’s dismissal of a world-changing historical event that doesn’t feel that distant to me. I began to think about the tension of history.

On the one hand, we don’t want to be stuck in the past and, yet, like my fellow passenger, if we become too detached from our history, we may lose perspective on our present and lessons for our future. In life and leadership, how well do I hold a healthy tension between what got us here and what will bring us forward? Whether in my relationships, my work, or how I relate to the rest of the world around me, do I see history as a repressive guard or a helpful guide?

I decided for the rest of my trip that I would choose to experience airport security as a responsibility to embrace versus a punishment to endure. As we move into the future of this new week, let’s give thanks for the wisdom that God gifts us in always remembering where we came from, as well as where we are to go.

by Daniel Cellucci

December 05, 2022

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