The privilege of reading history

Many of us did not have the privilege of reading history in schools. Many were bundled to do science as the in thing then. I read history before being streamed into Science. Fortunately I decided to read history again at tertiary level. The boredom and repeating of historical facts and dates took back stage and history was read differently, to understand how events came about and the players that contributed to the rise and fall of empires and civilisations.

There is one particular trend of thoughts in historical writings that often said the final hours of an empire were normally filled with duds and traitors and unwise policies. And the fall of empires and dynasties was just a matter of time with fools in charge, blinded to their own stupidity. Such conclusions are easy to establish with the benefits of hindsight. Historians simply pick up all facts and figures selectively to fit the jigsaw that they have set out to create, and books were written to confirm the findings.

For all of us who are living, we are living history as it is, at a point in time. What would be tomorrow is difficult to foretell. This is like the chartists analysing stock trends. They would not know whether the stock will rise or fall in the next minute, hour or tomorrow. But if they were to hold up a historical chart, they could tell you all the turns and when to buy and sell. At every moment in time, every empire or dynasty, or regime or govt in power does not know what tomorrow would be. The only thing they know is that they are doing things they think are good, be it for the country or to protect their self interests. They would not have the faintest idea that what they are doing are silly things or stupid things that would lead to their downfall. This is obvious isn’t it? If they know that they are doing daft and pompous things, they would not be doing it, like digging their own graves.

Take the current history that is evolving and happening right in front of us and the ruling govt and the slate of brilliant leaders they proclaimed as the best team they ever had. Isn’t it a truism that they believe that they have the best team in place to run the country for another century? Isn’t it true that all their policies must be the best to keep them in power for another century, and to make the people continue to vote for them? Isn’t it a truism that all the policies and decisions that they made, all the things that they are doing, are the best and right things to win the hearts and minds of the people?

Can be it otherwise, that the best team that they have collected is but a team of duds and fools? Cannot be right? Can it be that all the things they are doing, the policies, we all know what they are, the  CPF, housing policies, AHPETC, Amos and Roy, high minister salaries, influx of foreigners, foreigners replacing citizens,  etc etc, are wrong and they are digging their own grave and paving the road for their own destruction? Cannot be right? Everything they are doing must be good.

Current history or current affairs, in the eyes of the people in power, are the best thing that is happening and would ensure their continue popularity with the people and will be voted to power again and again. We must know that they believe that they are the smartest and most intelligent beings, some even claimed to be immortals, so they must have put in a lot of thinking to come up with what they are doing. And they must honestly, sincerely and wholeheartedly be believing they are doing the right things.

See, at this moment in time, the historians would not be able to tell whether the policies and things the govt are doing are the right things, the good things, or the contrary. That is why there in no one out there to say otherwise. Only the historians of tomorrow would have the wisdom of hindsight, when everything is over, when an empire, dynasty or regime fell from grace, would they be able to say, ya, all the writings were on the wall. The people in power were a bunch of asses and doing silly things. But today, no one would dare to say that. If they would to say anything, they would say everything is fine, the policies are fine, the things that the ruling govt are doing are the right things. And they can be right too, the error of being right or wrong is 50:50. It is like guessing black or white. Who knows better?

What would the historians of tomorrow be saying or writing about the events that are taking place today and their judgement on the leaders of today? We could say, and many agree, that we have had several very good leaders in the early years of the birth of this country and many right policies. How many could say anything about the current leaders, be they good or bad? Can’t tell, dare not tell, or waiting for tomorrow to tell? Or waiting for the next victor or future historian to tell the story of today?

Reading history is a privilege to know what had happened in the past. The only drawback is that the judgement were past by people after the events and could still be flawed. The beauty of observing current affairs or history in the making is that it is happening right before our eyes. And everyone who is an observer, is likely to be making his own judgement of what is happening, based on his own interest be it highly subjective, or objective, if one is lucky to be neutral.

We are seeing history in the making. We are participants in a living and moving history of our time, history now showing. Some may live long enough to write the history of today, or to say, I was there.


Anonymous said...

"Can be it otherwise, that the best team that they have collected is but a team of duds and fools?"

RB, have u heard of the greater fool theory?

And 60% Sinkies, without fail, will put this theory into practice every election. They think it is better to be ruled by a fool than by a greater fool. Or put it in another way, a fool will rule over a greater fool.

Or to use the stock market which u as a remisier is more familiar, a greater fool will buy at a higher price a stock from a fool who bought it at a high price.

Anonymous said...

make history tomorrow.
vote opposition.
vote them out in GE 2015

Anonymous said...

Leaders especially those of a country should lead by examples.

Skillfuture does not only applies to old hundred surnames ( 老百姓 ) but aristocrats as well.

They should beginning today read and history and other aspects needed to be relevant and do their jobs well.

Anonymous said...

*does not only apply

*read up history

Anonymous said...

Nobility by birth. Aristocrats by birth. Born already knows everything. What is there to learn? Only the ordinary people need to upgrade their skills, continuous learning or become not employable.

ℳatilah_$ingapura said...

Why waste that much time on history? Sure it can be exciting, and everyone likes good stories.

Human nature has not changed lah. It is the same now as it was over 250,000 years ago.

Anonymous said...

If we don't know our history, how to know that you are a quitter coming back here waiting under the table for crumbs?

patriot said...

History teaches the Villians to avoid the Mistakes of Past Villians.
to create new histories for posterities.