“This is the way it happened…” I could start any recounting of an event with that line, tell the story with a sense of strong conviction and if told enough times to enough people, gain a measure of credibility. In the right circumstance, at the right time, told to a targeted audience, I could make other people believe my stories as the truth, even if I have distorted the facts. To paraphrase the adage (or variant), “a lie told often enough becomes truth.” I have always ascribed to the value that honesty is the best policy, so the chance of me not telling the truth is almost non-existent. But, like myself, I am sure you have come across individuals that have altered “the truth” to serve their purpose.
I remember a few months after 9/11, driving at night to a client (this was when I was consulting) on the border of Virginia and Tennessee. As I was flipping through the radio stations, I came across some local preacher talking about the Jewish conspiracy and the “fact” that the Jews were behind the attack. He stated that all of the Jews were notified beforehand to leave the world trade center prior to the attack – obviously, he did not have the conversation with the Jewish spouses and children that lost family on that day. There are the people that try to change history to say that the Holocaust never existed. While the number of Holocaust survivors dwindles, some survivors are still alive that can tell the true story.
There are plenty of bad time-periods in all of the nations across the world – whether it was slavery, ransacking, or general brutality. These are events that makeup nations and, in some cases, have provided rich legends and historical accounts for where we are today. The lessons they provide in pointing us to a better future are still pertinent today. In an age of political correctness, pulling down statues, whether in this country (i.e., Robert E. Lee – people forget he served with distinction in the Mexican-American war and was the Superintendent of the US Military Academy, also known as West Point) or elsewhere (i.e., ISIS destroying ancient statues), the truth is still that – the truth. In ancient times, if you fell out of favor with the leader of a nation, the punishment was having one’s name stricken from the books – in other words, they erased your name from history, altering the truth.
I understand that we all see life through the prism of our understanding and desires. However, that does not account for the deliberate actions to alter the truth, whether it is placing a grave marker without interring a body (under a false guise), pulling down statues of heroes / explorers that had a small black mark against huge positive accomplishments or providing altered educational curriculum to unknowing students (i.e., some third world / terrorist countries). Most important is to keep the truth, “warts and all.”
We are taught that we should be givers (not takers), to help and educate others, as well as ourselves. Those that alter the truth either do not have full knowledge (will not put out the effort or the time to learn), uses the opportunity to blame others by recasting the truth and, at the end of the day, uses the opportunity to selfishly manipulate the truth. While we are all entitled to our opinions, based upon our perceptions of reality, we do not have the right to maliciously recast history in an effort to twist the truth so that it provides a different outcome.