Imagine walking around Rio de Janeiro and looking at statues of Mahatma Gandhi or Brazilian Princess Isabel blindfolded. It would be strange, right? However, it is the reality for many, BBC News reported Sunday. A Brazilian artist has anonymously blindfolded approximately 100 statues in Rio de Janeiro as a sign of protest, given the general political crisis Brazil faces.
What is the point? The artist wants to shield these figures from the political reality of today, according to BBC News. He also wants to demonstrate that previous historical figures can do nothing to protect the current world from all of its dismay. His actions got me thinking: What would historical figures think of the world today?
They say that history repeats itself and it might, but I also find myself entitled enough to think that the historic reality of our world is so different because of technology. What would Mahatma Gandhi think if he saw today’s world and saw that an online petition would probably be more effective than his Salt March? What would Charles de Gaulle think of uprisings and rebellious groups finding it easy to contact each other through the Internet instead of physically across borders? Would historical figures be amazed?
Or would they be concerned? It would be surprising to them that given all of the technological strides humanity has made, people have still not found a way to live compatibly with each other. They would look at all of the conflict and wonder if we learned nothing from the wars that have happened before. If Marie Curie would see that women in science are still a concept that people have to strongly advocate for, she would not believe that we are in the 21st century.
I do not have the right to complain about the world we live in today. I understand that my reality in the 21st century is a lot better and safer than what it would have been in other centuries and what it could be in this century itself. I understand that technological progress gives me a voice that I would not have been able to have before, and hence, I understand that it is fantastic that we can actually use this voice and get things started.
Yet amid this positivity, I realize that our responsibility increases. We have so many resources available to use, we have thousands of years of history to rely on and because of this, we need to be more proactive. I may be lucky at my reality in this century — a lot of us might be — but I cannot be passive.
The Brazilian artist thinks that the old historical figures help us in the reality of today. I disagree. I think that historical figures that fought for the rights we have today need to be used as inspiration, as fuel to fire us up to fix the issues of today. I do not agree with blindfolding these statues. I think they should watch us so that we do not absolve ourselves from blame, so that we can work to not ruin the legacy they left for us, but instead, to better it.