History: A Source to Learn?
History; a general term utilized to reference an account of a past experience or event expressed both casually and formally. The former being conveyed orally through generations often come to be considered as “myth” in that they are not widely supported by acceptable, evidential material to corroborate their having happened, whereas the latter is typically presented in written form supported by accepted factual evidence and are often referred to as the “document of record” or the “official recorded history”. True history by nature, especially recorded accounts of events and/or situations, is expected to provide a detailed, factual expression of the matter and/or situation being observed, clearly supported by all related references to corroborate or substantiate the information specified by the written record in order to satisfy any future reference, a level of confidence in the validity and accuracy that the event transpired as represented by the official document of record.
The principle objective of creating and maintaining historical records is to serve as a legacy source to future generations of humanity. Another objective is to provide a viable and true representation of human-experience that occurred before their current time with the view and hope, it will serve to both enlighten and edify, that it may serve to render an insight to both the good and bad that has transpired over the passage of time. That said, it is also necessary to view official recorded history with a degree of skepticism and caution. It is also essential that the official record of history represent a true and accurate account of the historical reality it is deemed to document. Cynically speaking, there are many arguments to refute this general acceptance. The primary of these, from which all others fall, is that history originates from the minds and pens of “Man” (of both sexes) and, as such, is highly susceptible to ambitions and power to influence the “truth” to events recorded.
It is difficult to make such claim toward historical record representing an era of antiquity for reasons that are obvious, however, there are several “living” examples wherein the official historical account recorded as fact can and is refuted as potentially misrepresented by those still living and reputed to have been present to witness the event in history. In today’s parlance, such rebuttals are commonly referred to as “conspiracy theory”; opposition to historical facts documented. These more often just serve as fodder for arguments that seemingly never satisfactorily resolve to warrant alteration of the historical document of record. Examples of such events that raise such concern and most commonly known today include:the assassination of President John. F. Kennedy; the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001; and the U.S.S. Liberty incident that ignited the United States conflict in Vietnam, amongst many others. Other world events that continue to be questioned as to their veracity of truth in historical fact given their potential for distortion at the influence and power of human authority both then and now for self-governing reason are such monumental historical accounts (given in no specific order of reference) as Holocaust of World War II, the archaeological origins of homo-sapiens, the Holy Bible (Old and New Testaments), the Russian Revolution, to name a few.
One can satisfactorily conceive that given a potential and willingness to distort the “truth” to relatively current events in human history for reasons that are not often evident or the privy of the general public, is it not reasonably conceivable that comparable influence was and potentially continues to be imposed upon the documented history of centuries past? The unfortunate aspect to resolving this conundrum, however, lies in that all witnesses to ancient historical events have long deceased, rendering no satisfactory way to discern one way or another if the record as written, should be accepted as accurate and factual. Ironically, by virtue of this obvious conundrum, an argument can be made to suggest an eventual symmetry of meaning to the terms: “conspiracy theory” and “myth”. The former evolves to become the latter with the passage of time.
To go one step further in this cynical view of recorded history is to question,”What is ‘truth?” Generally speaking “truth” has come to mean what the majority of constituents hold to be the factual and honest representation to the matter of discourse. However, can the arguments made with respect to the veracity of historical record not be applied here as well? As the decades give way to the future, those living who support the arguments to counter the official historical account die off; these incidents fade in memory and are then left for future, human descendants to interpret, accept or deny what lies contained within volumes laden with dust, in library archives. It is these refuted sources of distortion to historical record the “minds of men” impose on the manner and accounting of history that contributes significantly to the repetitious failing of humankind to overcome through remedy, its short-comings to achieve a truly civilized, sociologically harmonious existence.
True to fact, regardless of lessons to be learned from history, a major factor in the continued barbarism of man lies in the inherent violent nature of human beings driven by ego that plays a significant factor in discounting any lessons attributable to historical experience, no matter how egregious the account. Illustrating this fact are the annual war memorial services in remembrance of the hundreds of thousands of lives sacrificed through wars of the past. Even with this heart-wrenching reminder, wars rage on and lives continue to be sacrificed. Although the deemed purpose of documenting humanity’s history is to serve as reminder to the nature of its past reality, ultimately, as proven by our contemporary reality, it is just that: a “Document of Record” and not a viable source to reason or rationalize humanity’s future actions.
To conclude, in order to bring into better focus why it serves humanity well to question the generational struggles in recorded history as a primary reference source in charting a better course to become a better “social animal” and for the sake of an undefined and somewhat ubiquitous quest toward a greater perception of good versus evil, one need only look to their own, personal record of history to recognize its potential failing as proof of the distortion and deception that exists to alter “truth” by expunging written record, destroying evidential material, etc. Would the same not be as plausible on a grander, global scale?
Humanity’s history will not serve to alter its ways, it will only serve as a faulty tool to mirror its short-comings.