History is the study of past events particularly in human affairs. Google answered me at the first place, with this, for my query on ‘Definition of History’. For the same query dictionary.com defines history as ‘a branch of knowledge dealing with past events.’
I, like everyone, was taught history as a subject from school days. Ever since, I had encountered a problem on defining history and its scope. History is written about events that involve people, by people. It’s a collective sum of accumulated knowledge intended to let the future generation know what happened in the past. We seek history to know the past with all its glories and blunders, learn from them to carry on the legacies and work on the blunders and avoid them repeating in our times.
Every nation, every race, every religion, every family has its own history. In fact history is pluralistic. A singular history on any event in the historical timeline is surely written by force exercised by the victorious. I came across a satirical take on history years ago. It goes somewhat like, ‘History is a record of fabricated facts complied by the winning side’.
In the modern era with the advancement of communication we are literally bombarded with a legion of histories varying widely in versions from each other. The greatest task faced by an individual who looks the correct history has to work on the available versions before making up his mind to pick the right one. The multiplicities of the versions of histories also give rise to multiple points of views. In that way history is never objective. All of the written history, to date, is subjective.
To root out a civilization and doom its existence, it is enough to destroy their history. If that seems hardly possible, the next best way is to create alternate versions of it and contaminate the authenticity of the original. All the politics behind the manipulation of histories, throughout history (!), has originated from this. Every power center in the world, be it the power that rules the nation, or a religious order, have laid their hands on fabricating history so would speak theirs.
Every time when one tries to understand an event in the past, the individual ends up with multiple versions of it, glaringly different from each other. The history that manages to satisfy common public the most, on controversial issues and events of the past, has always been the version written by those who possessed power. I gave up the naïve belief of accepting the authenticity of every history ever recorded from the day I became aware of the multiplicity of the versions.
The challenge encountered by all who seek the truth centers around the attempts in knowing the versions of histories available and to look in it for the version closer to truth.
Managing histories is to be of greater concern for anyone who is socially and politically aware (or at least who is willing to be).