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Inside Sources: Instead of poking holes in the past, try writing the future

Boyd Matheson (Chad Larsen KSL)

This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.

Rewriting or criticizing history is easy. Some media, academic elite, and some progressive historians have begun to wear their bullying of historic figures as a badge of honor. Sort of an obsession for some, casual sport for others, to look back on history and reframe, recast and reimagine.

I think it’s cowardly.

Writing the future on the other hand requires courage. This demands real authentic vulnerability and humility.

Reagan’s example: Writing a letter to the future

In 1976, as governor of California, someone petitioned future President Ronald Reagan to write a letter for a time capsule. It would stay sealed until the year 2076, for Los Angeles’ bicentennial and America’s tricentennial celebrations.

The suggestion that Reagan got from the time-capsule committee was that he focus his letter on some of the problems confronting the American people and the government during the 1976 election.

The simple drafting of a letter became a difficult and complex chore as he began to consider something that he hadn’t supposed. 

Those who read the letter when they open that time capsule in 100 years will know what we don’t know. They will know how well we did with the problems he was about to describe. In short, they would be living in the world we helped shape.

Will they read the letter with gratitude for what we did or will they be bitter because the heritage we left them was one of misery?

What Reagan did, and what it teaches us

Reagan did go on to write the letter. He wrote of the problems facing American citizens back in 1976, including big government, excessive spending, the loss of individual liberty, the two big superpowers, America and then-Soviet Union pointing nuclear weapons at each other.

After he wrote the letter, Reagan noted those who will read it will know whether anyone fired those missiles or not.

If we meet the challenges confronting us today, those who open the time capsule 100 years from now, will do so in beauty, peace and prosperity. Not to meet those challenges means potentially the loss of freedom and individual liberty.

I challenge all of us to — rather than attempting to rewrite history — write the future, knowing that those who will read your letter in 2121 will know if you were right or wrong.

Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson can be heard weekdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.

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