1 min readSimone de Beauvoir on liberating the present from the past

If we are to create a better future, we must learn to liberate the present from the past.

In this article for Brain Pickings, Maria Popova examines a portion of Simone de Beauvoir’s The Ethics of Ambiguity, particularly the part discussing our individual role in remaking a collective imagination. Beauvoir says that the world in which humans engage in is penetrated with human meanings. Through this world, “each individual can give his freedom a concrete content”. By engaging and discovering the world we live in, we must also seek to liberate others.

Editor’s Note: This reminder is so important in a world like today, where it is so easy to put blame on the past and the mistakes others have made. We must realize that our goal is to create a brighter future, but that can only be possible if we create a collective imagination of the desirable world we want to have.

Perhaps one of the more important insights from this work is that the past and the present requires different attitudes and actions. The past is over, there is nothing more we can do about it, but to chronicle the stories and harvest the lessons. Our task is in the present, and if we are to achieve our purpose, we must first find the freedom within us. This is the only way we can liberate the present from the past, the only way we can truly create a society that is nurturing and empowering.

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