History as it is written is usually cleaned up and sanitized. (It’s strange how people could call something that passed down institutionalized atrocities and systemic abuse for generations “the peculiar institution.”) As it happened, history was a smorgasbord of good and bad, just like the present is. However, after a country’s historians finish with it, history is tidied up to make their country look good.
The uncomfortable parts of history have been reworked. The bad has been polished up, and the really bad has been taken off the buffet and removed from view. Then that hidden history becomes a mystery that isn’t taught in schools or popular books, but must be sought out and discovered by interested individuals who are courageous enough to face it.
When a society ignores (and or down plays) the parts of its history that it doesn’t like, people never learn the lessons that those parts have to teach them. For example, in American history, most of the painful details of the cruelty that was legalized and supported by the government are left out and the incidents that are mentioned are played down and presented as very minor parts of the story, not really worth much time and consideration.
Unfortunately denial only hides the pain of the past. It doesn’t heal it. It doesn’t allow the people of the present to freely learn the pain of the past and discover ways to move beyond it.
Personally, I don’t want to believe and build my view of the present on history that has been altered to make the past look better than it was. I’ve searched American history for years to find, learn about, and try to understand the fuller story that the faint of heart are often unwilling to face. If you want more than altered history, check out what I’ve discovered.