“It doesn’t matter what it actually is”, she leaned back in the chair, gesturing with the coffee cup. “It’s what it represents. It’s the past, a legacy moment. Something from the rear-view mirror. So why should we care?”
I rolled my eyes.
“But that’s exactly why! It is our legacy. It completely matters what it is, and what it says about us”
“You’re saying we should leave a big dumb statue in the middle of the city because its important to you? You’re not a Christian. When the last time you were in a church?”
I had to think about that. “I went to a wedding last year…”
“And I bet you mumbled through all the prayers looking at your feet?”
“Yes, but…its not the point. You can’t just discard the past in the search of the new.”
“Fine. Well you shouldn’t. I may not be a Christian but I live in a Christian Society, and it’s part of my heritage”.
She leaned forward again, put the cup down and narrowed her eyes at me.
“And thats a good thing? That we cling onto that sort of religious baggage because it’s traditional? You don’t have to believe anymore but you still have to follow the rules, stick up the memorials and rituals, because its part of your heritage?”
“Well lots of people do still believe…” I started weakly, but she was in full flow.
“We live in a diverse society of many heritages, and we shouldn’t stick one over the other, and it would get crazy to try and stick them all up in City Square like some, some sort of, well, action figure collection. In no time at all you’d have the Secular Society demanding a statue of Darwin – “
“or Dawkins” I interjected
“ – and then we’d have Captain Kirk and Darth Vader and it would never end.”
She paused to draw breath and drink.
“Actually I think that would be pretty cool. You could animate them and they could shout catch-phrases. But look, I’m not saying that the old ways are best of anything like that, I’m just saying that our society is shaped by the past – for the good and ill – and to not acknowledge that is foolish. There is a huge difference between carrying forward the good that say, religion has done over the centuries and slavishly following it, and some that good is communal festivals.”
“Even weird ones about death?”
“You mean weird ones about Hope and the promise of Redemption?”
She grinned at me. “Oh right. You want to start on that one now?”
I stood up, and drained my coffee. “Love to. Same time tomorrow?
I pulled my coat on, and paused by the door, looking up at the statue being carefully assembled in the spring air outside.
“You are right about one thing though, it is bloody ugly”.