Some history should never be repeated

The answers that got you a passing grade in history class aren’t always the full truth about the way things really happened. Some parts of history are celebrated; some ignored (or hidden). The ignored parts can tell powerful stories.

If “fake news” exists then “fake history” also exists. Sometimes we have to step outside our comfort zone to find the real. Popular history omits much and much of what has been omitted would change how we see things.

I think history is often repeated because too many history books make it look better than it really was. History doesn’t repeat itself, we repeat history by following our pride and human nature more than humility, mercy, and love.

History is full of people and nations eagerly doing evil when incited or ordered by leaders and governments. Rare are those who refused.

Historians, like all humans, are capable of telling lies — sometimes whoppers! History books are a mixture of truth and denial. The more truth we can uncover, the stronger we’ll be. Too often history idolizes violence & shames humility and forgiveness.

When we insist that history “be kind” to our nation, we overlook much truth that can transform and improve us all. A nation’s history books frequently leave out (or gloss over) things that make it look bad. History, like romantic love, often blindly overlooks (or minimizes) the wrongs done by its heroes.

History happened. It’s better to learn the truth about it than to ignore it or deny it. We can’t change history but we can discover many things that have been left out of history books. Many of history’s greatest heroes who truly stood for universal freedom have been maligned and/or ignored. I love the rare people in history who spoke, wrote, and lived passionately for “liberty and justice for ALL.”

To only accept history that makes you feel good and makes your heroes look good is to warp your perspective of the past. Much history is painful, shameful, cruel, humbling, and embarrassing. The details about that history have been too often been left out of history books.

Many people are bored by history. Some are inspired by it. Perhaps we need to be shocked by it. When I read about the past, it seems like the wrong side of history is much larger than the equality, love, and compassion side of history.

If the past doesn’t matter, history is a waste of time. If it does, exposing the injustice of history can help heal the present. Even when it’s ignored or denied, the past reaches into the present. If we aren’t completely open and honest about the past, it’s hard to be so about the present. To minimize, ignore, or excuse the injustices of history is to endanger the present.

Nations frequently use monuments to boost their pride in their accomplishments, seldom to humbly acknowledge their wrongs. By its nature history books are selective. The part left out (the hidden history) is sometimes the most revealing.

Most history books focus on and exalt the powerful while ignoring the plight of the poor and the oppressed. The goal of many history books isn’t to tell the truth, but to make a nation, its leaders, and its heroes look good. However, it’s a stretch to call people who are unkind to people who look differently and/or think differently than them, “Good people.”

Most American history presents the majority slice of the American pie and gives little respect to the other slices. From 1619, history cruelly repeated itself for many generations until American slavery was ended in 1865.

The saddest freedom in American history was the freedom for human trafficking. When that truth is faced it will break our hearts. Slaves looked at slavery differently than slaveholders did. Their viewpoint should be widely told.

Justifying the sins of a nation’s past makes it easier to repeat them in the present. Truth and openness can bring healing and reconciliation. If we are unable or unwilling to see the injustices in history, we probably won’t notice them in the present either. History is too often built on pride and glorified. Much of its truth is denied and defied.

To minimize the evils of American slavery is to deny the full humanity of its victims. All Americans should feel free to openly talk about their history because the history of all Americans is American history.

Slave narratives, books written by slaves about their experience in bondage, read like a Stephen King novel. American slaves weren’t legally allowed to tell their own history, but some did anyway. Read a “slave narrative” and get the full story. (Also check out my book. Search for: Off the RACE Track book.)

If certain parts of history (like slavery) are treated as “off limits” because they’re in the past, then by definition all history is off limits. Read history carefully, because it is usually kind to a nation’s heroes, overlooking their villainy while glorifying their good deeds.

The Bible is the world’s most honest history book, openly exposing the sins of Israel and its leaders. Outside ancient Israel, full-disclosure history is hard to find. They openly told it all–the ugly, the evil and the good. History studies the processes that produced the present.

I love finding Jesus Freaks in history. Seeing how much their experience of the living Jesus in the past matches mine today inspires me. The most amazing tomb in history isn’t the regal Taj Mahal in India, but the empty one Jesus exited outside of Jerusalem.

About Steve Simms

I like to look and think outside the box. In college I encountered Jesus Christ and I have been passionate about trying to get to know Him better ever since. My wife and I co-lead a non-traditional expression of the body of Christ in Nashville based on open participation and Spirit-led sharing. We long to see the power and passion of the first Christ-followers come to life in our time. I have written a book about our experiences called, "Beyond Church: An Invitation To Experience The Lost Word Of The Bible--Ekklesia" that is available in Kindle & paperback @ http://amzn.to/2nCr5dP
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