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Coming Back Around — By John Reed

Coming Back Around
Many claim the “Golden Era of Television” was decades ago, and certainly many innovations created then still serve programming well. Others would claim that categorization should be now, with dozens of streaming options, cable channels, and even the old broadcast networks providing ever more opportunities for good writing and acting.
Recently I’ve been rewatching “The West Wing” which had a seven-year run from 1999-2006. While naively optimistic is its portrayal of most of the characters, the writing and overall ensemble acting is some of the best ever to air on television. Watching the show again 20 years later, I‘m intrigued at how many issues dealt with then are still with us in one form or another.
Additional musing shows that various themes repeat themselves through our history, even if the specifics may have changed. Fortunately, the writers of our Constitution and Bill of Rights were prescient enough to compose them in such a way that they remain relevant even 200+ years after their appearance.
Endless arguments have ensued over the decades over the interpretation of these documents: should we follow an absolute verbatim version, or try to interpret or update the meanings to reflect modern times? Many churchgoers will recognize similar arguments over a much older document.
I won’t be the first to recognize no one anticipated certain societal changes over the last centuries. Obvious examples include the medical capability to alter a person’s gender, extending the life of a premature infant…or the ability to kill it. Another would be the abolition of slavery and attendant challenges of assimilating millions of freedmen and women into society: an effort many claim is still incomplete today.
History can be a mentor and inform us of how to move forward…especially historical mistakes. Most would agree now Prohibition was a mistake, that Reconstruction could have gone better, and that entering foreign wars shouldn’t be done lightly.
Unfortunately there are those who would seek to erase those mistakes. Renaming places, banning certain books, or changing school curricula won’t change the past. All that does is guarantee those mistakes will be repeated in some form or another in the future.
We cannot learn from our mistakes if we don’t know about them. And it’s certain we’ll see things come back around sooner or later.

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