Immutable Nature, Immutable History
At the bottom of the hill in front of Montpelier Mansion, an old iron gate caught my attention.
Within moments I had abandoned the gate with the discovery of a newly emerged luna moth. He had just unfurled his wings, beginning his new life amongst the shrubbery of an imposing man-made structure he cared nothing about.
My recent visits to slave plantations and the opulent dwellings of people who owned human beings have yielded far more questions than answers. But this is how change begins: in knowing what we do not know.
What is the significance of the iron gate?
Does it relate to history connecting Richard the Ironmaster, who lived in this mansion, to the Ridgely family who owned and enslaved hundreds of human beings in the iron forges near my property?
Does the couple posing for a maternity photo shoot in front of the mansion have even the slightest idea that their family photos will forever carry the imprint of this place?
Does the photographer know where he has brought his clients, or is history just a pretty backdrop?
What has created this blissful ignorance and what has ensured that people continue to live in it?
While I contemplate how nature's ignorance of our affairs is immutable, I have to face the fact that history is also immutable. Moreover, there are some wounds that can never be completely healed. We can only re-examine history in a way that informs our present and our future, and in order to do that we have to face the inherent pain of examining it truthfully.
The moth spreads his fresh new wings and flies away. We are left to look at ourselves.