History is in the eye of the beholder

We are taught that history is a fact and that what happened is what ultimately shapes us. We as humans are as much part of history as it is part of us. We base our culture on history, our hopes and dreams are based on history and it is history that guides us in a very fundamental manner. For example parents that survived through a certain horror will do everything in their power to save their children from that horror, this is logical and still this is history. History teaches us there was a horror and we learn from it, and make adjustments for the next generations.

However, history that is not directly related to us, is an interpretation of said history, and very much one sided. Next to that little fact we conveniently forget the history that adds shadows to our history, and makes us look much less of the self proclaimed heroes we naturally think we are.

There are many countries that conveniently forget aspects of their history. I’ll give you two examples of two European countries (and not a more obvious example) just to show how things change. France had a war with Algeria (back then it was a French colony that fought for its freedom) that started in 1954 and ended in 1962. Everyone that wants to can go through Wikipedia, or other source and look at the details of the war and what happened, what you may not know is that French children to this day know just about nothing about this war. It is not taught in schools and it is shoved aside for more (arguably) important aspects of French culture.

The second example involves Belgium. You may know Belgium as the country of the waffle or Belgium beer and good chocolate but there is a whole aspect that is never really mentioned. This aspect involves the atrocities afflicted by Belgium (under the rule of king Leopold the II) against Congo. This in some respects is similar to the Dutch who started slavery. In 1885-1908 King Leopold II acquired Congo (privately) and started exploiting it for its natural resources (rubber). He erected a force labour camp and used public brutality to deter the public fighting back, and get them to work. He used murder and mutilation as part of his methods to motivate the people and during his reign millions were killed. Finally in 1908 due to an international outcry against the brutality, Belgium stopped the force labour camp and annexed Congo as a colony (although it kept it as a colony until 1960 when it gained its freedom). Now do you think there were any penalties? Was there anything done to the Belgians? Or to the King? No, there was nothing done and the Belgians received no repercussions and would like nothing more than just forget this little piece of history which is what is happening now.

History is part of who we are, for better or worse it is what has led us to this point. Not just me but all of us. If we forget one little piece of it then how can we ever be sure it won’t happen again? History lessons are not to be forgotten or teach as suited to us, so that we emerge as the strongest, nicest or whatever. It is there so that the truth comes to light, and we learn that we like everyone else make mistakes. Making mistakes is human; not learning from them is stupid.

As children we are always taught the difference between right and wrong, and as we get older the boundaries of the two get blurred. We see more grey when at first we only saw black and white.  This is not because we don’t know the difference anymore; it is usually because we are confused, from the information being incomplete or because people are unnecessarily complicating things. I always see bureaucracy as the perfect example for that. Something that starts as a tool to help becomes an unnecessarily complicated machine that lacks any flexibility and is at the end a stupid struggle against the system. 

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