Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Subjective history

History is usually told by the winners--at least that is usually how it goes. Anyone who denies that there is always some subjectivity in the telling of history is flat out lying. There is always some subjectivity. Does this mean that it is not possible to have an accurate understanding of what happened? No, but it does mean you need to consider who is writing the history. Every writer is going to have a purpose in writing the history. They are going to tell the story in a specific way for a purpose. Does this mean their history is always wrong or inaccurate? No way! It does have a slant to it though. Including certain events and leaving certain others out adds to this.

Presenting history is true even of the Biblical writers. Each of the different gospels presents Christ in a slightly different light. John writes that we might believe on him and have life through his name. The other gospels have different focuses. The writers have an agenda; is it a dishonest agenda? No. Not all subjectivity is bad; on the other hand, some is.

Evidently China and South Korea are up in arms about a new Japanese textbook. The Japanese are trying to gloss over some of their more atrocious actions during WWII. This might very well be an example of a subjectivity gone wrong; I’ll let those Asian nations fight this one out themselves.

We do need to be weary of making serious distortions of history. If we do that, we are bound to repeat it. Nations need to recognize their faults (liberals seem to get this one). Nations also need to recognize their great contributions(liberals usually miss this part). Lastly, nations should recognize the contributions other nations have given them. Many Americans died freeing Europe from the tyranny of Hitler in WWII; I wonder how long that will still be recognized in French textbooks? The U.S. also needs to remember how some of the great basics of our freedom flow from the struggles of the British (sorry, but I don’t think the French Revolution helped us much).


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