Do you wake up in the morning with profound thoughts? This morning I had profound thoughts about history. One weekend I realized I didn’t know much about the history of the world, so I got a world history book and spent the weekend reading it. (I read fast.)
History of Conflict
It was a downer and can be summed up like this: one group rises up and attacks another, raping and pillaging and oppressing the losers. Things settle down for awhile, and maybe that group grows and spreads and thinks they are the empire (finally) that will never end. Then another group rises up and does the same thing to that empire. On and on. Individual men, who are more talented at attacking, raping, pillaging, and oppressing others are considered to be famous historical figures.
History is Mostly about Men
I noticed first that history is really “his” story. Women don’t seem to have done much of anything except give birth to these pillagers. Of course, when we read history produced by the empire in which we our selves are living, it will be biased toward our empire, with the implication that all these other empires were just trial runs up to ours and we (finally) are the empire that will get it right. Profound thought: Our empire will end, too.
Another profound thought: Maybe human history has not been a constant blood bath. History describes conflicts, not regular life, which is too boring to be reported. History only reports men biting dogs and skips incidents of dogs biting men. Perhaps 800 years passed in a given nation in which people farmed their land, fell in love, raised their families, held celebrations, complained about the weather, and dealt with the inevitable rogue A-holes who trouble all communities.This 800 years of human life would be pretty much ignored in history books, but I’d like to know about them-I’d like to know how people wage peace.
Biting the President’s Dog
I’m not going to “make history” today or probably any day. But perhaps I could, if I went to Washington DC today and bit the president’s dog. I would be arrested, of course, and I might get 10 seconds on the evening news. In order to really make history, I’d have to propel us into a war. Perhaps I could claim that I’m really part of a religious fundamentalist sleeper cell and carry biological-terrorist weapons on my teeth. I could claim to be supported by some country with lots of oil and a plan to bring down the American empire-that might do it. Crazier things have happened.
So history reports conflicts, not regular life. History is biased toward the empire in which we are currently living. History teaches us that the empire in which we are currently living will eventually fall. It would be great if we studied conflicts in order to learn how to resolve them instead of how to win them. It would be great if we learned how to wage peace.