Friday, July 15, 2005

Secretary of History

Dear Senators, Congresspersons and Media:

History is THE missing ingredient in the collective conscience of our American society. We are, as an easily defendable, “restructured” saying might suggest: “dumber than shit about history, and therefore exponentially vulnerable to being victimized in its repetition.” We have been suffering from that axiom for years already. Arms races are surely proof this is true, since historically man always adapts to his enemies technological superiority by design theft and improvement. ALWAYS! Now a nuclear weapon is within the grasp of the small minded....

Therefore, Any modern government, especially those with power, should be mandated to have a “History Czar” or “Secretary of History” or suitably named, full cabinet position to head the “Department of History”. He/She would be responsible for the accuracy and volume of purely historic information to the President and Congress, and also be charged with working with the Education Department and media to insure history receives the same weight in public schools as mathematics, reading and writing. And to insure “political agenda’s” are not a part of the history policy, there would need to be extreme independent oversight... Finally as another check or balance to war, the Secretary of History must be consulted before the country goes to war.

Example: What if “we” knew more about Roman history. There are a lot of modern issues we struggle mightily with that are very similar to some that the Roman Republic/Empire dealt with and could shed light on the nature of humanity in a context not unalike our own. Their troublesome slave revolts (and there were many) remind us of the human spirit and indomitable will to fight perceived tyranny, even against insurmountable odds. Or the how the rise of the “Empire” at the expense of the “Republic” came about in time of fear and concern over threats from abroad such as “barbarians” and threats from within like infighting, corruption, greed for glory, and even civil war. Fear and desperation give rise to Dictatorships like Julius Caesars’ and Emperors like Nero, and Caligula.

And we retain stunningly little about even our own past lessons, as illustrated by the lack of any recital today of that beautiful one liner by Abe Lincoln: “A house divided cannot Stand.” Such chillingly familiar sounding political acumen from the past needs to be reviewed by modern policy-makers for relevance and guidance. Also, when the public has a very good grasp of history as a whole, then the public would be infinitely harder to manipulate. It is a grave shortcoming by any society to itself that forgets the lessons of history, which we have done in spades here in America.

Before any country could be invaded, the President and others in the decision making process, must consult the “Secretary of History”. In the years during the buildup to Iraq, there was plenty of time for the administration to be fairly well educated on the history of Iraq, its people and customs. They were not. Now we have to deal forever with the wrath of people who still fight for things that happened 800 years ago. Are they likely to forget our abuses? That question and many others were not even considered due largely to lack of historical perspective.


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