Monday, 21 December 2009
I think it was Henry Ford who said that history was 'bunk', I'm not certain, please correct me if I'm wrong.
Wherever you live history has been, until relatively recently, that which is presented by your own media and the prevailing education system.
Traditionally history was always written by the victors.
Today however we have access to resources around the World, which are helping to give us a more balanced view of specific events.
Two examples are the British Empire and also the history of Native Americans, there are many more, but for this post two will suffice.
When Dad was at school a quarter of the globe was pink, you could travel over land from Alexandria to Cape Town and not step outside the Empire.
School children were taught about the wonderful benefits of being part of the British Empire with it's paternal approach to civilising the natives!
Everybody new their place and all was right in the World.
For my father's generation this teaching has left them not knowing who they are and they are unable to comprehend the massive changes they have witnessed in the World.
This is not their fault, they were fed an institutional form of history which was about population management.
The Second World War changed everything, former colonies realised that their masters were not infallible and so self determination became the new mantra, supported by a now dominant America.
For my generation, we were fed a variation of the above in the creation of what was termed the British Commonwealth of Nations, which still today comprises some 26 countries and has a certain amount of political clout in the World.
The nineteen-sixties saw the first serious attempts to look at history from a different perspective and this was done through the media with film and books.
Film allows you to look at an issue from a human level and thus permits people to reassess particular events.
Books also played a part in this process.
In the U.S. a film came out called Soldier Blue, that publicly admitted atrocities against Native Americans followed by a seminal book called Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.
These incredible works opened the eyes of a generation to their origins and their culture and encouraged other writers and film makers from around the World to look at history anew.
An Englishman, Sir Richard Attenborough directed the film Gandhi, which exposed some of the less savoury aspects of Empire.
With the advent of the internet, we have got to a situation where we can see other peoples perspectives.
Today many writers of history record events, not at a national level, but rather at the human level and for me this is more powerful.
My friend Meam Wye records Islamic history in just this way.
When you write about individuals and their achievements, it does not matter where they come from.
Their achievements are for the benefit of humankind, wherever they live.
The result one hopes is that we can learn to live together in a way that permits varied opinion and dialogue.
We must teach our leaders to understand that we do not want conflict and that they must find another way to resolve issues.
History shows us that it is mothers who suffer, when their sons are sent to war.
May be it is time for women to run the World.