One of my favourite subjects at school some 50+ years ago was History, not least because we had a teacher who made history come alive in in the mind’s eye. I well recall Mr Vickers - fondly known as ‘Chopper’ by generations of schoolkids - telling the class to bear in mind that History hates to lose face. He went to comment along the lines that, just as many if not most of us are inclined to be less than honest when reflecting on home truths, so it is with history. Consequently, he added with a characteristic chuckle, history is paved with excuses.
I have since come to understand how it is invariably in the light of these excuses that events are recorded, re-recorded and often ‘adapted’ to reconcile with contemporary opinion according to this or that point of view.
Fortunately, I also had an excellent English teacher at the same school [ 'Jock' Rankin] who taught us how to identify elements of bias in both factual and fictional writings as well as various media presentations. There is nothing wrong with bias, he would say, so long as we recognise it as such and make up our own minds.
On the whole, I hated my schooldays, but looking back I see now how, as an Education for Life, they excelled. Even so...50+ years ago, and what's changed?
HISTORY, PAVED WITH EXCUSES or BACK TO THE FUTURE
Should global warming kill us all,
even Earth Mother may not survive
but as one among stars poised fall,
among its remains, nothing left alive
They say humankind fails to consider
that nature might turn and retaliate
for killing off trees, failing to nurture
respect for bird or beast until too late
We hear much talk of saving habitats,
ending world poverty, famine, wars,
as the poor grow poorer to feed fat cats,
old gods and new settling old scores
Oh, but there’s politics, sure to save us
from worms haunting its mass graves?
Copyright R. N. Taber 2007; 2016