Friday, February 22, 2008

History...Digging for the truth

I have always had a fascination with history. Having gone to Catholic schools most of my life, I still have quite a few of my old school books (we had to purchase them) and going through them now can be as startling as the story they try to sell. That's not a typo, I didn't mean tell...much of what lies within the covers has as much to do with History as to a book of Fables. I learned long ago through reading history that history was doing something astounding. It was changing. History lessons of the 50's and 60's have no resemblance to the history being taught today. It was as much hype as Hollywood's version of history. It makes me sad to know that in the 16 and 17 hundreds, we were no better than the governments we were trying to escape. In some cases, we were worse. We had little or no regard for the peoples of North America, taking their land with little or no recompense. I don't know why I didn't recognize that from the beginning. So anyway, I am addicted to the History Channel. I love The Naked Archaeologist, and wanted to be either an Archaeologist or a Teaching Sister (I did tell you I'm Catholic, right?) when I grew up. The other night we were watching the History Channel and the theme was Kit Carson. Now, I knew that Christopher Carson was a hero of Mac's and I also already knew some things about Colonel Carson that I knew for a fact Mac would find, shall we say, unsavory. It wasn't that he (Kit) was almost single handedly responsible for leading the way west, people would have found their way there eventually. It was for one thing and one thing only. It was for how he turned to killing and scalping the Indians he encountered who really were not that eager to leave their ancestral lands. I don't think he was the first soldier (yes, I said soldier, he was in the US Army, not through choice but by circumstance) to have used the old excuse "I was just following orders." Anyway, as the history of one of Mac's heroes kept unfolding, and the tale became more bleak, more agredious I noticed he was very uncomfortable. He finally got up and left the room. I went to see if he was okay and found him on the porch looking at the night sky. From the look on his face I knew that had he been five or six years old, he would now be throwing things and kicking chairs and having a tantrum. He told me that he had frankly not put any faith in the facts as I had presented them to him several years ago. He couldn't believe that someone he had been led to believe was a great American Hero was nothing more than a thug. Unfortunately thugs are everywhere to be found, no matter whose history you study. It's just funny that the ones who suffer the most always seem to be the ones we were told were at fault. My advice is to dig deep, exhumate the story, find the truth. And then tell it.

37 comments:

cd&m said...

Love history and although I don't actually have the History Channel the BBC and CHannel 4 do a grand job.

Kathryn said...

So true.
My hubby has really sparked my interest in history and we watch the History Channel a lot.

Tara said...

I watched the Kit Carson bio as well...the whole story of the west is sad. It really is.

Mima said...

I think that we just have to hope that our great-grandchildren don't look back at what we have done to the planet and think how could they. We all live lifestyles that consume so much, and we know that the planet can't sustain this, yet we don't change. I think our politicians will be known as the ones who did nothing.

Hummingbird Chats said...

I too love history. I watch the history channel as well as several others. A well know saying is: History is always written by the winners. So I always try to keep an open mine to it all. Katie
http://hummingbirdchats.blogspot.com/

Jeanne said...

Hey I went to catholic school too and lived to tell the tale. hehe. Excellent post.

Jeni said...

I watch the History channel quite frequently too and I appreciate the fact that they try to tell it like it was, how it REALLY was. One thing I don't like though about some aspects to the way history is often taught now is that so many of those explorers, etc become all too often villanized for some of their actions which, after all, were a product of the time, the era in which they lived and operated. As far as I am concerned, Christopher Columbus was still a great "hero" in that he had the courage to go about exploring where others had never trod. Yes, he was a dealer in slaves and probably slaughtered natives too -I'm not saying that was right but it went with the ethnics of the era. I do believe we can still teach that even though the characters from history did plenty of unsavory things they also did things that without them, where would we be -or when WOULD we have advanced the world around us to the point we are today? Use the unsavory things side-by-side with the good things so people can actually learn more than events that took place but also, perhaps a better way to live from learning via past mistakes.

Sandi McBride said...

I love a good healthy debate Jeni, thanks for your imput, I welcome all views and would fight to the death to ensure that you have your say.
Sandi

San said...

Great post, Sandi. Like Mima, I wonder what the historians will have to say about us.

lynn said...

I love history too. Thanks for reading my coffee break fiction at Things UK! Glad you found it funny; will let you know when the next instalment is up.

Lee said...

Good Morning, Sandi!

Loved the post. History has been one of my favorite subjects since I was a little girl reading the book, "Stories of the Elizabeths". Yes, a lot of history is written by the conquerer and thus strongly slanted and often suspect. Some of my friends are historians in one form or another. Do you have a favorite country or period?

Don't have the History Channel. Do have PBS. The last historical book I enjoyed was, "In the Heart of the Sea" by Nathaniel Philbrick. It's about what happened after the whale wrecked the boat in Moby Dick and based on a cabin boys journal. Philbrick is a Nantucket historian. If you like that kind of history I highly recommend it.

Hugs,
Lee

John-Michael said...

I was blessed to meet some of the tribal elders of the Seminole Nation when I was very young. Their gentle and non-accusing way of telling a story, radically different from the history books, set me on a life-long honored path of inquisitiveness and prudent evaluation of sources of myths and fables (even when they are cloaked in robes of "text books" or "reference materials.")

I do hope that Mac is doing well post-shock [smile].

Penny @ Lavender Hill Studio said...

The history channel can be a real eye opener. Great post Sandi.

I am so far behind in visiting my blog friends...I promise to try to do better. I miss visiting you!
Hugs,
Penny

Bax said...

When I was a youngster (eons ago!) I found history boring and just not interesting at all. Now that I'm far from being a youngster anymore, I have a new found love of history! I love the history channel and do appreciate that the programs found there do seem to try to get to the heart of the matter instead of just glossing over what we may find unsavory. This was a great post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Jan

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

...and do your homework! ;>

Hope that you're smack in the middle of a relaxing weekend, Sandi. Guess what I've been trying to find...what? You can't?









Yorkshire tea. I can't find it anywhere...I'll have to go to a specialty tea shop. There actually is one about 40 miles away. ;D

Sarah said...

oooh your a bossy one lady!!!! - I promise I'll post soon!

Jeanne said...

RYC: I found it the same wonderful or aweful on the nuns. I have fond memories of some and still shudder at others lol.

Terri said...

Ah! They love to point out everyone's mistakes these days, don't they?

While I think it's true that alot of our "idols" from history had clay feet, I often find that the revisionist version of history is full of many flaws as well.

I think it's important to remember that the Yellow journalism in that daythat made heros of people who did not always behave in heroic ways is no different then the yellow journalism of today where the politics of the reporters seem to have as much (or more) to do with a story then anything else.

Christine of Epiphany said...

It bothered me when I saw a street or something named after Carson out in New Mexico.

PAT said...

Great post, Sandi. As one of those folks with ancestors on both the giving and receiving end of the treatment, I thank you.

I've often wondered what the old sea captain, many great g'pa, carried in the cargo hold of his ship. Nothing about that in the family history told by mother's aunt, though.

My paternal g'mother's family arrived in the west, reportedly, via the Trail of Tears. According to family lore.

By this time in our lives with my family being on these shores for centuries and many here before Columbus, I find I am related to the good guys and the bad guys and wish I knew more about all of them.

Pat

david mcmahon said...

You're so right about digging deep for every story.

Sarah said...

What is it they say about history... Those who ignore it, are doomed to repeat it...

Vienna for Beginners said...

A good and honest and deep insight into deeds and persons of the past are among the most valuable lessons, as long as we learn that our actions are also going to be judged one day, and live accordingly.

The Plum Tree Antiques said...

I have a bad memory of history in school. The teacher was a big headed man with foul breath. He was not very tolerant of young girls who goofed off in class. Needless to say I liked spending the hour in the principals office then in class.

the mother of this lot said...

Great post! Award for you at my blog!

Wanda said...

My TV only goes as far as the History Channel. Well, except for the mornings when I move it on up for the Waltons. But generally, I flip through as far as THC and then head on back. Don't even go as far as HGTV.

I agree. I've always been appalled at the way the Native Americans were treated. I think I even said something as a kid and my parents just tried to ignore me or push it under the rug. It's not like they had anything to do with it!

joan said...

Hi Sandi,

Love this post. History was one of my favorites in school. My hubby loves the history channel but I'm usualy watching HGTV. This was a good post!

smilnsigh said...

Ya' know what Hon? I'd advise Mac to go do some digging, on his own. In the library and etc. Sorry to say, but I don't trust tv channels.

If I were him, I'd not give up that easily on a person he used to admire. OK, if he himself finds that this man wasn't what he thought... Ok, then he can accept it.

But please, don't just accept what even "nice" tv channels push at us. Not strictly on face value.

Mari-Nanci

smilnsigh said...

And now, to the fun stuff.

How *dare* you get me all worked up with that Subject Line? "Digging For The Truth"!

Now there was a show I'd watch anytime. Who cares about content? All I wanted to do was watch that gorgeous hunk of man who hosted it!!! Josh Bernstein!!

^_^

Mari-Nanci

david mcmahon said...

Hi Sandi,

I think my kids' appreciation of history is being whetted by the wonderful programs on The History Channel on pay-TV.

Adla said...

Sandi, don't they say history sometime comes back to bite you on the bump. Lets hope all of that history teaches us a thing or two for a better future!

chat soon, Adla

Mary Isabella said...

I have always had a passion for history. Just can not get enough of it....Mary

Susie Q said...

Wonderful post Sandi...you truly do write so well.
Bill and I have a passion for history and are always watching the history channel. Every vacation we go one has to include something that ties in with a historical event. I get chills and yes, I often cry when my feet stand in a place that saw history unfold.

Love,
Sue

San said...

Christine is right about the street name. Kit Carson Road is in Taos.

david mcmahon said...

Everything OK, Sandi? You haven;t posted for a while ...

Shall I send out a search party?

Or maybe just a party???!!!!

Gretchen said...

I've always enjoyed history and finding the truth, not just what we're told is the truth. Probably why I'm so into genealogy. :)

Sandi McBride said...

Gretchen, I have tried to back link for you and can't get through, don't want you to think me rude, I'll look for you at some of my Blog friends and see if I can get through!
Sandi