The winners write the history books...or do they?

Today I revisited the joys of public transportation. In an attempt to conserve fuel, save frustration from two+ hours of off-rush hour traffic snarls, get in some reading, and relax a bit, I took the max/bus to and from work today.

Public transportation is great in so many ways...the crushing together because there are too many people in too little space. The stomping on my feet and elbowing in my ribs. Ah, joy.

And better yet, the trapped enclosure where the political activists have the captive audience.

Like today, when the loudmouth spent about 10 uncomfortable minutes crowding on the poor girl smiling nervously and trying to edge further from the unbathed, unkempt dude who looked like he had not shaved, showered, washed or cut his hair for several weeks loudly proclaiming why she should sign his petition against gerrymandering while using 1990 Florida (!) as his example.

Mind you, I am not defending gerrymandering...but it spoke volumes about what he knows and does not know that of the dozens upon dozens of examples he could have used, that was the one he selected.

Never mind it was the 1965 Voters Rights Act that was designed to stop Democratic gerrymandering to "disenfranchise the black voter" that, for a time, slowed the oft-ridiculous gerrymandering we see.

Never mind there are egregious examples of the spiteful, idiotic practice in many, many states...he is a guy who is still not over Bush, much as some Republicans are still not over Clinton and just as some of us who hate the corruption of what Federal Government authority should be still resent Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Be that as it may, it was interesting to note that his take on history had enough of a grain of truth in it to draw you in...and enough lie in it to drive you back out, depending on how much you know about political history in this country. Gerrymandering did not start with the Democrats and did not end with the Republicans.

In a way, it puts the lie to the old saw, "history is written by the winners".

It also raises an interesting point. On the way to work, I read the end of I Kings and all of II Kings which, for those who may not be aware, are the Biblical version of the history if Israel over the course of Davids' life, through the split into the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, ending with the deportation to Babylon of Judah, thus ending for milleniums the status of either Israelites or Jews as a nation of people with established borders.

I have read these histories from many viewpoints.

Some think it is all myth and legend.

Some look at it from the standpoint of developing technology.

Some look at it from economic views.

Some look at it archaeologically.

All have their points. Certainly technical innovations allowed some nations to rise and caused others to fall. Some civilizations were better equipped to leave behind records of their deeds...which has led to one of my running jokes in which I refer to Tiglath-Pilesar. (Google him is great entertainment. You can be part of his conquered circle of kings.)

Yet in the Bible, in one sense, we have history written A) by the losers and B) with a completely alternative view of why history happened.

When Israel or Judah fell, the forces they faced often had some mighty man leading them or some magnificent technology or perhaps overwhelming forces. When the lord chose to rescue them, numbers and technology meant little or nothing.

II Kings is replete with fun and creative ways for the out-matched peoples of God to defeat vastly superior enemies...valleys filled with trenches full of water that caused the enemy to think the Israelites fought themselves, and thus descend into the trap, for example...or huge armies simply running away at the sounds of massive armies, fearing the Israelites had hired the armies of their enemies...or the Angel of the Lord out and out smiting 185,000 dead.

But the REASON Israel or Judah won, according to Scripture, had nothing to do with the HOW they won.

The REASON they won or lost was because they obeyed or disobeyed the laws and covenants of God.

Again and again some form of the phrase and/or idea that "because of their evil God gave them into the hands of their enemies" finds its way into the account.

I know some of my readers do not particularly believe either in God or that the Bible is His Word or accurate, and I know others like myself believe not only in God, but also in the inerrant nature of the Scripture.

That means I not only believe the Angel of the Lord slew 185,000 people...I believe God guided history, rising up oppressors of Israel and Judah when they walked in the ways of Jeroboam and raising up rescuers when they walked in the ways of David.

That does not mean an unthinking faith...I must admit, I find the passage in II Kings 3:26-27 which might be interpreted as saying the King of Moab sacrificing his son as a burnt offering to his god stopped the armies of Israel from slaying him. I have spent time considering this and will spend more.

But it does mean that not always do I look at history and say army A won because they had better equipment or more food or whatever...sometimes I realize their are forces guiding history that are beyond my comprehension, understanding, or even need to know...

And I also realize that, religious or secular, there are plenty of records in history that have been left by those who lost. Sometimes we just ignore their voice because it is easier to listening to the braying of the winners.


Riot Kitty said... raise some great points but I can't stop laughing about "1990 Florida." Nothing like an idiot with an agenda! Oh wait, Sarah Palin did that pretty well.

Fullur said...

My only question is, is "1990" a typo by you, or the genius on the train?