Q: So much of history confounds me; I’m always wondering what really happened, or why it happened at all. Yet, when I read or watch documentaries to try to find out, I find that no two books or films tell the same story or give the same reasons. How do I find out the truth?
A: The truth of history is that it depends on the source of the information. Some sources are recorded with the distinct purpose of maintaining the supremacy of one side’s story (one race, one tribe, one country). While others record the event with the need to preserve the information as truthfully as they can. However, even their truth is jaded due to their perceptions and biases. Therefore, is the recording of history always skewed. At best you can find similar occurrences or similar points in the “story” that will confirm that indeed the event in question actually occurred, and in the way assumed. But as we explained, each person records (for themselves) each event in their lives based on their own perceptions and their experiences, and this makes their rendition of some historical event different than anothers. No two people will ever record events identically, but many will record events similarly enough that you can get a broad view of what occurred. What you may not get a clear understanding of is why—what the reasoning was for the event or what the reasoning was for each of the players to do whatever it was they did. Many purported versions of history relating to the Kennedy assassination give accounts as to why the gunman pulled the trigger; however, they do not know the gunman –or, even if they did, they did not know his true rationale for doing what he did. For he told no one what it was he planned to do, and therefore told no one why. So at best history is speculation combined with skewed truths that can give you little more than the fact that something happened on or about some particular date.
Many would say that the beginning of the First World War had to do with the assassination of the Austrian ambassador, yet again, this is speculation based on forensically following the events backward. None could look at the assassination and say for certain that what next occurred was what they thought would happen. Yet, are there those who would say that while the Austrian’s death was impactful, it was not the definitive moment. Therefore, as we said, while history can point out milestones of occurrences, it cannot always tell you why. Why do nations wage war? We will say it is because of fear—country A fears that country B is too strong, too powerful, too big (expanding too quickly), or numerous other reasons. Therefore, they begin a war. It can be a war of words, of economy, or of guns and men, but fear is the underlying cause. Locate the fear and alleviate it, and you alleviate most wars.
Why does one person assassinate another? Again many times is it fear—fear that the person will somehow upset, change, or otherwise interfere with their life.
History is by and large an agreement of sorts between each person in the now you all occupy to accept certain “facts” as truth. Therefore, will you all agree that dinosaurs did roam the Earth, and that in 1765 certain events occurred in France creating a turbulent and bloody overthrow of the government, and that in the Americas they did begin to overthrow the British rule. Details to those events, however, are recorded by individuals who have their own agendas and their own perceptions of why. Therefore, are certain “facts” omitted or left in depending on whether they feed into or detract from the theory or perception of the recorder.
Even your history (each person’s personal history) is altered so that each person sees themself in the best possible light. No one wishes to remember those incidents of embarrassment or pain (caused or felt) and so will internally rewrite their own history to make those incidents either appear not so bad, or not at all. Therefore, why would you expect anything less of those who record the city’s, nation’s, or world’s histories?