Who Writes History?

It took us more than twelve hours to get from our Winnipeg home to our home here in Mexico near the city of Merida. The hours flew by because I was reading a riveting memoir called educated by Tara Westover.  I marked a whole bunch of quotes I wanted to think about after I finished the book.  One was……..

“Who writes history? I thought. I do.”

Tara has been raised by a father who believes in all kinds of right-wing conspiracy theories and interprets history through their lens. She doesn’t attend school till she is an older teenager but once she gets to college and starts reading various historians she sees how they can have very different views of historical events.  Tara finally comes to the realization that we all write/interpret history in different ways depending on our world view, our personal experiences and the things we’ve read and studied.

I know from experience that people in the same family can have very different views and memories of their joint history. After reading Hans Werner’s The Constructed Mennonite I started thinking more about how we create and interpret our own version of our personal histories so we can live with them.

In recent decades we have begun to gain a greater appreciation for the fact that hearing about the same historical events through the eyes of different participants is valuable.  When I was in school I mainly learned about the events of Canada’s history through a British colonial lens.

I remember as a young girl being fascinated when I discovered the poems of Emily Pauline Johnson and realized that looking at my country’s history through the eyes of a Mohawk chief’s daughter might offer an alternate perspective.  I remember first hearing the story of Laura Secord and realizing that viewing the war of 1812 from a woman’s perspective might make it far more interesting to me. 

Looking at the home page of Fox News and CNN on any given day will offer proof that history can be seen through polar opposite lenses.  Completely different events are considered newsworthy by each media outlet and are reported from totally different perspectives.  It is up to us, the reader and consumer of news  to be thoughtful and open minded and try to formulate our own view on what is happening in history right now.  

“Who writes history? I thought. I do.”

I had planned to write a blog post about at least three of the many thought-provoking quotes I bookmarked while reading Educated.  But it seems one is enough for now. I recommend you read Tara Westover’s book and find quotes of your own to ponder. 

Other posts……….

The Constructed Mennonite

The Song My Paddle Sings

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Filed under Books, History

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