History is unchangeable, as everyone knows. It is set in stone, stuck in place, and the story is the same every time. However, perspective can change Historical Lessons, for better or for worse. We must be careful not to cause Historical (and those we teach about History) Injustice.
A Painting regarding the Signing of the Mayflower Compact
For instance, a 2013 movie called Free Birds was somehow approved for release, and though it was not taken very seriously by audiences, it brings up an interesting point about how the World perceives the religious men who left their homeland for America. The Puritans are viewed by some to have been bumbling, cruel members of a colony determined to wipe Native-Americans off the face of the Earth, with Governor William Bradford and Commander Myles Standish at the helm. This idea is subtly being associated with the Puritan’s quest for a free Christian colony, and attempts to point out flaws in the morals of Christianity in general. This may seem far-fetched to some, as an idea like that could never take root in America, right? Wrong, because of a growing population concerned immensely for Native-American rights, and biased against the Puritans for killing them, especially Myles Standish, the commander of Plymouth Colony’s forces. First of all, there was no systematic killing of Native-Americans. I wholeheartedly agree that taking the life of another human is a great sin, though self-defense may give one no choice. Standish and his militia hunted down Native-Americans every time they attacked and murdered colonists. Remember the fact that the colonists knew each other very well, so imagine someone killing off your friends in front of you and then scalping them. Understandably, the Puritans were angered by this disrespect and defended themselves, desperately trying to end the attacks. The second point is that the Puritans DID manage to end hostilities for a time despite all that, around the first Thanksgiving Dinner (a Holiday coming up). They learned from the Native-Americans useful ways to use their resources effectively, and therefore establish a permanent colony that helped in the foundation of the United States.
Another instance of dangerous bias is against the religion of the Founding Fathers. Recently, there have been many discussions and points against the Founding Father’s morals and Christian background. One must simply read the Historical Context to learn the truth. It is said that their belief in the separation of Church and State automatically makes then non-religious, or deists, the term used for many of them including Thomas Jefferson. However, throughout their lives they consistently reaffirmed their faith in God, and this Republic was created under the moral standards of the Bible. Once the Founding Fathers’ dedication is taken away by years of untrue history lessons, the purpose of their work becomes moot. On another note, History has been unkind to them in general for owning slaves and supporting slavery. This is not true, as many of the Founding Fathers opposed slavery vehemently. However, such were the times, and just because we know it is wrong now doesn’t mean that they knew it back then. Once again, all about perspective. Now that we are safe from the sin of slavery, we may tear into the values of those men (though we should not) who might have been us at that time, as many know now what is right only because the sin was proven wrong to them. There are many controversies today, with neither side being “proven” right thus far, as it is up to your personal opinion. It is much easier to look back on History than to predict the future, though learning the past definitely aids one’s knowledge about which roads can lead where.
Education is a time when most things are told as if they are indisputable fact, and this can be taken advantage of by those who are biased for one side over the other. My side is biased as well, but my point is that YOU are in charge of your own decisions, don’t let others tell you what is fact and what is fiction! Analyze it, study it, and come to your own educated conclusion. Don’t just listen to what you hear on a biased comment on historical context, listen to what you learn from what actually HAPPENED, and come to your own conclusion on the matter.