As a kid, I loved history…
I enjoyed reading about the heroics of great leaders and rebels from the past. There was grit, drama, determination and a lot more. It never failed to impress me. There were clear villains and heroes in the story.
History lies in the eye of the beholder
It was only much later that I realized, history isn’t that simple. I read somewhere that history belongs to the winner and I didn’t understand its deeper meaning then, but today when I look back I realize how true that statement is!
We always have heroes and the story is said from the hero’s views. The pattern is common the hero or the heroic team fights all odds and wins it all. But were heroes present only in the winning team? What about those who lost? Who writes about them?
One’s Hero is another’s enemy
History was written by someone, so it is more about facts with a certain perspective than whole truths. If you read the Mughal history or the British history they might consider their early explorers as heroes who conquered new worlds and brought glory to their country. But they were invaders and plunderers for Indian’s because we suffered.
Similarly today people talk about and apologize to the lost tribes of America and Australia, hence we know about their existence. Had that not been the case, would many actually try and find out more about the early inhabitants of these places, who faced atrocities at the hands of winners? Wouldn’t they have lost a crucial piece of their country’s heritage, just because the keepers of that heritage lost?
Losers lose it all!
Can you think about history with role reversals and how it would have been painted? Had the Nazis won, would the world war history still be as it is read now? Had the Britisher’s continued to rule India, what would be the history that we would be reading? Had Dalai Lama been caught, what would be the present legacy of Tibet?
The losers might vanish without a trace and till someone actually plans to go beyond the noise and see things for facts, without letting their emotions rule, would the true story surface.
There is Dignity in remembering those who lost
Those who lost, were there for a cause. The cause might not be good for the winners, but if the winner magnanimously keeps the piece of that history intact the coming generation would know a lot more about their country and various views that made their country as it is today. Losing something to time is easier, but with knowledge being as fluid as it is in today’s world, it is not really possible to suppress it.
This post was inspired by the few documentaries that I saw on The Tiananmen Square Massacre, which celebrated its 30th anniversary. What I personally found disquieting was that many interviewed on Mainland China refused to acknowledge the past of Tiananmen Square and there was not a single memorial or a plaque talking about such a significant history.
The Tiananmen Square protests were student-led demonstrations calling for democracy, free speech and a free press in China. There was a bloody crackdown, known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre, on June 4 and 5, 1989.The image of an unidentified man defying and standing before military tanks became a landmark image – History Channel