The world appears to be descending into chaos as we watch. The extreme polarisation of political views across the world is staggering and frightening. I'm not too keen on the "genital measuring" (or sabre rattling as they used to call it) of certain "so-called" alpha males in the world either. However, there can't be much to worry about as I believe (according to the Daily Mail) that Cumbria is the safest place to be during a nuclear attack. I am assuming that the two nuclear power stations we sit between and the nuclear submarine base we are situated on have assumed protection from a Potteresque cloak of invisibility.
To top it all there is the atrocious "alt-right" (or Nazi as they used to call it) events in Charlottesville US, where we can see a reinvention of Kristallnacht, again unchallenged by the leading politician of that country. As an amateur historian it is all too easy to draw comparisons and there are those much cleverer than I who can identify more refined similarities.
Then there is "history" what is its use if we do not look at what is gone and take lessons from it? We appear to rewrite it in the same way older people gloss over the difficult times in life and only remember the good times. Nostalgia is a glossy, rose-coloured view of the past and we tailor what we remember to suit our particular preferences and hopes. This is not authentic or real and presents a simplistic view which can then make the present seem worse than the past. This allows discontent to creep in and the constant harking back to the "good old days". I suppose I feed into this by writing about the past-but I do try to be balanced and to reflect the bad and the good alike. I have especially tried to do this in the book I have just completed "Work in Barrow-in-Furness". I have been amazed with how much I have discovered about cause and effect and I understand better why our town is how it is today.
The "rose-coloured" aspect of history is a worrying one. Mary Beard one of my favourite historians has been vilified for suggesting that Roman Britain was multi-cultural-because this does not fit with the traditional view that many of us were taught. The objectors want to ignore or dismiss the evidence (of which there is much) because it impinges into their perceived knowledge of the subject. One only has to look at evidence in the museums dotted along Hadrian's Wall to know that diversity was the order of the day. It worries me when historians, scientists and teachers are attacked-indeed in a number of countries today we are seeing such people being arrested or gagged and history is being rewritten. We must not allow this to happen here. We must accept our history "warts and all". We, as many other countries have shameful and reprehensible acts in our past. It is pointless, in my opinion to apologise after so long-this achieves nothing-but we must own up and accept our misdemeanours. Rather than apologise let's demonstrate in the way our politicians speak and act that we have learnt form those errors and that we will fight tooth and nail to avoid them happening again. Let us show we can learn from the past and secure a better future for our children. Most of all, let us ensure we never gag, limit, remove those who speak these uncomfortable truths because we do not have to look too far back in history to see where this leads.
|Hadrian's wall manned by Romans, Spanish, French,|
Belgians, Germans, Romanians and North Africans