… a willingness to sacrifice our existence in the past should be matched by a willingness to sacrifice at least something of value now or in the future to prevent or mitigate new atrocities. What would we be willing to sacrifice for the refugees from Syria or the potential victims of police violence, or the impoverished undocumented workers in our country—those whose troubles will help determine who our children and grandchildren are? What would we be willing to sacrifice to prevent the enormous consequences of climate change, which seem already to be multiplying their victims? And if we’re not prepared to make some sacrifice, what does this in turn say about our relation to the horrors that gave rise to us? Our relation to the past and our relation to the future are not entirely distinct from each other. In asking about one, we offer answers—and perhaps not answers we would prefer to acknowledge—to the other.
As a new year is upon us, then, we might do better to renew rather than to forget our old acquaintance with the past, and allow that to be a guide to our future. (Todd May “Accepting the Past, Facing the Future”)