Part 4: Consider historical truth and an enslaved divided nation
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First hand truth in the eye of the beholder
Let us consider the first-person historian; the first-hand account of history. It is history as told my those who experienced it, recorded perhaps by diary or interview.
Studs Turkel was well known in the late sixties and onward for his first-person historical interviews, and more than any other was said to be presenting historical truth. I wish this were true. It is not.
Studs Terkel’s classic history of the Great Depression was published as “Hard Times” and had a cult-like following that continues to this very day. It is a unique re-creation of one of the most dramatic periods in modern American history, the Great Depression of the 1930s, and its mired in complexity. It is a virtual mosaic of memories from those who were richest to the destitute:
“…politicians like James Farley and Raymond Moley; businessmen like Bill Benton and Clement Stone; a six-day bicycle racer; artists and writers; racketeers; speakeasy operators, strikers, and impoverished farmers; people who were just kids; and those who remember losing a fortune.
Hard Times is not only a gold-mine of information-much of it little known–but also a fascinating interplay of memory and fact, showing how the Depression affected the lives of those who experienced it firsthand, often transforming the most bitter memories into a surprising nostalgia.”
And that is the rub, where truth is found in the shadows of lost memory.
You see, there is a bias in these recordings too. A person’s memory, especially one revealed after a decade, grows both murky and wistful with the telling. Time erodes truth. Turkel is good at recording the spirals of deep regret with an opposing optimism that culminates as a believable truth. It is far more likely that those interviewed manufactured and embellished fact to fit their assumptions, and it doesn’t matter if they are aware of it or not.
It does no good to hypothesize that it was intentional, because it is human nature to authenticate, to rationalize, and to substantiate justifications in order to validate the experience. It is a human fail-safe device to keep sanity in a world we have little control over. It is a primary reason truth is so rare.
These are the real concerns of a legitimate memory, and the more time transpired the more twisted truth may become. Even if a person had kept a current diary, potential distortion of truth is there between every line.
To think that there is not a concerted effort to control both truth and history seems ludicrous and naive in the extreme.
Though one might consider curbing the truth to be amoral, some would clam it is justification for a greater good.
But no matter how it is justified, a tainted lie is not reality. A mistake or blunder by one side or the other will bring on a reluctance to record truth. Those in control want to remain so, and truth will be sacrificed if need be. On might argue that there can be no real defense of an intentional concealment of truth when liberty and freedom is concerned, and taken into consideration.
Truth, no matter how bane, no matter how droll, how guilty, irresponsible, or accountable the reader might derive from the telling. Truth should be the primary goal, and of the most value, because without truth we are doomed to relive them. Truth is the only worthwhile standard in recording history, and should be demanded.
Conspirators care little or nothing for truth, but a bottom line, and conceal and cunningly hide governmental and profiteer manipulations that indicate the capacity for insider trade and mischief, or that the ultimate justification for war is profit.
And as we send our children to suffer and die on a distant shore we trust it is for a higher moral standard, a common and honorable good, where truth is found.
What cold betrayal to find otherwise? What treachery to discover the lie was cleverly concealed in one’s own laziness, ineptness, and child-like trust.
Nations can be built or destroyed by this powerful force, and millions upon millions have died to protect and serve it out of pure faith. Men have slaughtered men with the same name of God on their armor and lips, brutal affirmations screamed in the heat of battle for strength of purpose, symbolic banners and flags carried into battle along with the pounding drums of children, as they all march into the valley of death without knowing why.
Today, we can watch drones bomb people from our comfortable living room, and afterwards, as the dust settles, if there is something to sell in its showing, see mothers holding their dead babies.
It seems cartoonish, and we watch with detached and unsympathetic voyeurism until a loud and colorful commercial breaks the hypnotic implication with another subconscious suggestion to self-medicate. It is recommended that you now know, from this thirty-second spot, enough to direct your doctor to prescribe that particular drug.
You become convinced that this drug will be a positive influence, and change your mode of thought in spite of the dire warnings of impotence and blindness, but you are blessed, a chosen one these warnings have no clam upon. And rapidly, while thinking of putting a lime in your beer, the images of dead children are further displaced by a barrage of advertisements to sell you something more. Your car is, after all, four years old.
Sure, men could turn off the black box, but there is a deep and longing fear that real life will be just too boring, perhaps too convoluted to comprehend. Responsibility for one’s own life? Please. It is far easier to sit in the dark and accept the world as explained. And as your stomach expands, and your ass broadens, you will comply.
You will nod your head in unison, get up to pee on cue, laugh with canned laughter, and cry as your heart is cleverly pierced.
After your 1.5 weekly sexual encounter, whether alone or with another, you will set your alarm just in case. Incredibly, you will wake up just seconds before the bell, and wonder at your amazing ability.
“If they want peace, nations should avoid the pin-pricks that precede cannon shots.”
- Napoleon Bonaparte
“A revolution can be neither made nor stopped. The only thing that can be done is for one of several of its children to give it a direction by dint of victories.”
- Napoleon Bonaparte
“Courage is like love; it must have hope for nourishment.”
- Napoleon Bonaparte
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