About 40 or 50 years ago, it was decided that the way American history was presented was too one-sided. There was too much success and not enough failure, too many wins and not enough losses. It was too white and lacking in color, too much mythology and not enough sociology, too much theology and not enough a-theology. The problem in this history is that it was incomplete.
So, it was decided to rewrite our history. Reverse the items above and you will have current American history. America is a failed nation in that it never lived up to its ideals. America, while gaining in stature, lost its soul. Relativistic secularism replaced our theological foundation. Agreed upon cultural, moral, social and political constraints were replaced with “If it feels good, do it,” and free everything for everybody is fair and proper. The problem with this history is that it led to degradation, divisiveness, decline and an America suffering from a self-induced depression.
Our ship of state sailed away from our safe moorings of God, country and Constitution onto the roiling open seas of identity politics, materialism, failed Utopian socialism, anomie and autocratic rule and regulation by government and elitists. Instead of sailing on a rudderless ship of state, it would have been more prudent to have built a larger ship and remained in the safe harbor of all being endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights.
In retrospect, the first approach to our history was indeed unfair to the minorities of all stripes who made massive contributions to our rise into the American century. On the other hand, the second approach, the one-sided, anti-majority approach, threw out the baby of our rights and freedoms with the murky bathwater around it. The result is a lost nation, which through ignorance and misguided teaching lives a life of self-loathing and regret, ignoring the roots of its greatness and wallowing in self-pity or self-aggrandizement. Could it be true that where ignorance is bliss, it is folly to be wise? Only a college student would fall for that line. That is one reason they are so easily led, like sheep. There goes another statue. Rewriting history requires a strong back and weak mind.
We must study history because those who do not know history are destined to repeat it; usually as fodder for the state or elitist academics. The point is that when we study history we should be aware of how it is presented. There is truth and there are lies; history is rife with both.
Only one truth? Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and yes, there is one truth expressed brilliantly for all time unless we the people choose to abandon that truth. Truth, the one truth, is for all the people everywhere in the world: It is a self-evident truth that all people are created equal, all people are endowed by our Creator. Every human being is precious, all are given the right to life, liberty and all have the right to own property. There are no exceptions to this truth. Ignoring the source of the truth and creating exceptions to it is what got us to where we are today. To be fair, some of the above is opinion, not history.
My guess is that there are more than a million books in the category of history. Included among them is the History of Civilization by the historians Will and Ariel Durant. This 11-volume collection begins with early man and our Oriental heritage, continues through Greece, Caesar and Christ, the Age of Faith(s), The Renaissance, through The Age of Napoleon.
Writing thousands of pages over decades, they opined, “Caesar and Christ met in the arena and Christ won,” and, “Philosophy is the front trench in the siege of truth. Science is the captured territory … Science tells us how to heal and how to kill … Only wisdom can tell us when to heal and when to kill.”
They also said, “Rome had completed the fatal cycle known to Plato: Monarchy, aristocracy, oligarchic exploitation, democracy, revolutionary chaos, dictatorship …” and, “The political machine triumphs because it is a united minority acting against a divided majority.”
But Will Durant said, “It may be true that you can’t fool all the people all the time, but you can fool enough of them to rule a large country.”
Finally, whether you are writing or rewriting history, never forget this other thought on history by Will Durant: “History is mostly guessing; the rest is prejudice.”
And, “The beat goes on. The beat goes on,” Sonny Bono said.
Jim Hofmann is a resident of Moab. He is a retired educator, corporate trainer, program developer, operations manager and engages in a variety of volunteer pursuits.
“The point is that when we study history we should be aware of how it is presented. There is truth and there are lies; history is rife with both.”