December 1, 2020

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What do we do with the Colosseum in Rome? | Stage


The self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) attacked a few years ago against the cultural heritage of Syria and blew up high-value places related to the Roman Empire. For the historian Christopher Jones, from Columbia University, ISIS intended to "rewrite history."

Nobody in their right mind defends the excesses of the Roman conquest, much less blames Italy through the centuries of domination. The sensible thing is to value history, with its lights and shadows, to learn from the past and stop victimizing ourselves through statues or monuments.

Victimism is a heavy backpack that prevents us from advancing. There are victims and perpetrators, but the great leap in life implies being proactive in claims and letting go of the burden, going light to get ahead.

Therefore, the Reactions against statues of Columbus or Churchill are difficult to understand, to give a couple of examples. Both characters are neither saints nor devils, but their relevance is indisputable for the history of Humanity. Under what precepts are some demolitions decided? What periods are available to vandalize? Who decides?

Many times I have had the pleasure of traveling to imposing pre-Columbian monuments in Tulum, Teotihuacán, Guatemala or Machu Picchu. Does visiting them —or keeping them on their feet— mean applaud their ancient practices?

And what do we do then with the Colosseum in Rome, scene of boundless cruelty, or with the famous Trajan's Column?

The emperor's wars Trajan caused horrendous killings and hundreds of thousands of slaves, according to historians. Furthermore, ten thousand gladiators died at the Colosseum shows to "celebrate" their military victories!

Today we live in a key moment for the world. Racial discrimination, xenophobia and the absence of opportunities generate legitimate outrage, which must be heard by the rulers and by all of society.

The claims must be totally peaceful and coherent. In the United States, however, some convening organizations have a long and proven relationship with Nicolás Maduro. And, although Venezuela cannot breathe either, our hand has shaken to publicly defend the Chavista barbarism.

Their (hidden) motives should not daunt us in our desire for a world without racism. What really matters is our attitude towards the facts. And education, which is essential to extract lessons from History.

The ancient empires (European or pre-Columbian) are the reflection of an era. Whether the tragedy is not repeated depends on us, and not on the statues.



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