Monday, March 05, 2007

History has no morality, nor can it have a sense of guilt



But it must have a future

During WWII the Japanese, among others, committed various grave atrocities such as the use of female prisoners for the sexual service of men. But why would the present generation of Japanese be asked to apologize for the misconduct, even the crimes, of generations long dead and buried? It is like the Pope apologizing for the Inquisition, or the Spanish King for ravaging the civilizations of the Middle and South Americas. And so on. Why, perhaps even God will be asked to aplogize for enforcing thousand years of mental and spiritual darkness throughout Europe.

Who are we, in the end, to call for such apologies? History has no personality, it cannot defend itself. History can only be. In apologizing for the past, we are doing something that simply cannot exist.

We do however have a responsibility of our own. And this most certainly includes the way we treat the memories of the past (which is what history ‘is’). This responsibility can never change whatever happened in the past nor can it truly provide for any amends on behalf of those whose lives were devastated in the course of it. But it can, and should, influence our actions in the future. It is why we have this responsibility in the first place.

I have tabled some obligations to the future with regard to our past.

1. Never forget
It is paramount that history be recorded and that it remains accessible to future generations. This seems such a simple excersize but it is not. For what is recorded history for anyone who doesn’t even know who Napoleon was, when he lived and what he did, or for all those who lack the basic information about historic processes, chronology etc.? So many young people, including ‘educated’ people cannot access recorded history because they have no clue what to look for.

2. Truly understand
History is not just another story. It is about the Ascent of Man (Bronowski). History is what all of us carry with us, whether we realize this or not. It is what made us who we are. If we do not understand history, how the hell can we understand ourselves, our own Ascent in life? How can we effectively pass on our technologies, our experience in running our societies, our languages even, if we do not grasp their fundamental roots or their proper historic context?

3. Revisit, revisit, revisit
History is all but a ‘fixed thing’. It is as dynamic as the endless potential of scenarios for our future. You can revisit history time and again and never will it seem the same. There are different perspectives, there are different interests involved when we ‘counsel’ history, and there are so many possible ‘truths’ we can find, that a perpetuated visit of history is paramount to all future generations.

4. Educate
It follows from above that the introduction to history and to the wealth of insights it can provide, must be a crucial part of any education curriculum. This is not a one-way traffic, if it is done properly. And this too is obvious, yet so easily overlooked. It is not what we ‘know’ of history but how we relate to history (including the ‘facts’, of course) that in the end determines the effectiveness of history education.




Never should we be ashamed of our history, or of anything that happened that we do not wish to happen in our future. Such shame would only come in the way of understanding and properly utilizing our knowledge of history. This is what we should bring to future generations: neither shame, nor pride – but a clear framework for them to visit, revisit and understand history as it has to be understood in ther own time.

2 Comments:

Blogger Dr. Kold_Kadavr_flatliner, MD said...

If God doesn’t exist, why do you hate Him so much?? If God does exist, why don’t you follow us Home to Heaven Above if you‘re gonna croak as I am? How long do we have to enjoy this finite existence? 77ish, measly years? Compared to the length and breadth of eternity, 77ish years is like a nanometer in the whole, bloody, universe!! Why don’t we have a BIG-ol, roxx-our-holy-soxx, party-hardy celebrating our resurrection for many eons? Heaven TOTALLY kicks-ass for the length and breadth of eternity. Thank you proFUSEly, for the wick is running out on U.S. _thewarningsecondcoming.com_

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