Is there hypocrisy in harsh judgment of Cuming?

April 20, 2024

I read your article about John Cuming and found the man fascinating. He was a doctor, a civic leader, and a revolutionary. He lived an amazing life. I don’t know anybody today who is all of those different things. Before that, I read about the town taking down signs. I have not lived here for very long, but one of the things I like most about this town is the history that we drive by and see on a daily basis. I love being able to wander and learn about different things, even if those signs use some outdated language. We are living history, and we are lucky to live in a place where great men and women lived before us.

What I don’t understand is the urge to tear it all down.

Yes, they had slaves. Lots of people did back then. Was it okay? Obviously not. 

But I can’t help but to see the hypocrisy in our harsh judgment. After all, I eat meat. I drive vehicles that consume too many fossil fuels. I wear clothing that is produced in sweatshops in Asia. I could go on. There are things we do that are common today that will be negatively judged in a hundred or two hundred years. We are not perfect, and we will be judged by our descendants for it. But I sincerely hope that the buildings and bridges that are named after Barack Obama and Sonia Sotomayor today don’t get taken down in 200 years because they eat meat. Their merits outweigh their flaws. Just like Cuming, and George Washington, and Peter Faneuil, and on and on.

Being a diverse and equitable community is about how we live and how we act and how we treat our neighbors. It isn’t about tokenism like changing names, tearing down signs, and whitewashing history. 

Luke Harris

Wedgewood Common