1/25/2011

Complicated History

Sometimes I wonder about history. How do we know that’s the way it happened?  Why do we trust the account of a historian who wasn’t even there? In the same way, why do we trust the accounts of people who were there? Almost everything someone remembers, someone else remembers differently. And who’s to say which person is right, or is telling the truth? Maybe neither of them are, or maybe both of them are. It starts to seem like history is just an enormous bundle of perspectives. Someone had this perspective, someone had this one. Someone said this was fact, someone said this was.
    We all know that humans lie, and exaggerate, and twist things. Not only that, every single human being has their own opinion on things. So the people who were present have their own opinion, the people who listened to those opinions have their own opinions, the people who finally wrote it down as history have their own opinions, and the people who read the history have their own opinions!
    Stories and situations get complicated enough when they’re happening right now, in front of your very eyes. And the more people and opinions and perspectives you add, the more complicated it gets. If history is the story of the whole world, think how complicated that is. 
    I’m not saying that history is useless or unreliable; in fact I find it fascinating, and I think it’s important for us to know it well. It is interesting to wonder though... 

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