History is Not What it Used to be

George Washington TeethAs Orwellian as it may be, if you were to compare a 25 year old high school history book to a modern one (your thinking, this guy has lot of time on his hands) what you would discover is pretty shocking. Not only has the view an opinion changed but so have the facts. Just like the Winston Smith character in George Orwell’s “1984” we are literally changing our history (watch the history channel as proof). When I was a kid, George Washington was a great general and war strategist who defeated the British at ever turn, without lying and sporting a set of wooded teeth (it makes since that a guy with wooden teeth would have nothing to hide). Today, we are taught he only won about 2 out of about 70 battles and midway through the war was going to be replaced for not being effective enough (being 2 for 70 will do that to you). He also never had wooden teeth. They were made from lead and whale teeth (ivory), which means he could have defeated the British with his breath. The question is, did we get updated history information? Or do we write our history to make ourselves feel better about our past? I was talking to a lady from London who informed me that it’s common knowledge in England that they sent the 2nd string warriors to the colonies and the best soldiers were fighting in other parts of the world (sounds a bit defensive but historically makes since). Before I go any further and offend the diehard George Washington fans (if in fact you think you are George Washington this post is not your biggest problem). I would like to state was has not changed in our history about the first president (technically he was 7th or 8th but the first after the war). He was a man in an experimental government that was in trouble early on. The people around him suggested the only way to keep the peace among the colonies was to create an American monarchy and make him King. That would make his descendents heir to the throne. It would have given George supreme power and be much easier to manage since they all new how it worked long term. But George said no, he would not do it, too many people died for the freedom to try something new. That makes him more than just the father of our country. It makes him an extraordinary human being who is responsible for a lot of great things we enjoy about our country (there are a lot things we can improve but people keep moving here from other countries so it must be pretty good). It also makes him a real hero. Changing our history maybe a normal human reaction to time passing, we do it in our own lives. My college days have become more interesting (I’m not sure if I really remember 1984), and as I tell stories of my rise from a good peewee football player to the guy who struggled a bit later on (the truth is I threw 8 interceptions in one game which is some kind of a record I’m sure) it makes sense that time has a way of covering up the facts that don’t help us much (if I’m still telling high school football stories I need to get a life). I think companies do the same thing, we forget what did not work 10 years ago and we try it again. We look back at a merger and say that was not that bad, when it was very difficult at the time. We make history match and support modern ideas as proof that we are on the right track. I’m not sure we can predict the future by looking at the past, but analyzing the real history would surely yield better results than our study of an imaginary one.

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