Posts Tagged With: Middle Ages

Honoring Our Past

The past seems so distant to us and, perhaps more than any other people in hisrory, we tend to look down at those who came before us. We think we are sophisticated and have endless knowledge, our lives superior. Yet, our ancestors weren’t so primitive or mired in darkness. That’s why it’s a shame when some try to rewrite history to discount certain peoples, cultures or beliefs — all to rationalize their own beliefs or to feel better about themselves.

In particular, the myth of the Middle Ages being “dark” has been rapidly unraveling. Why should anyone other than history enthusiasts care? Because the Middle Ages is where modern culture was born. It was then that the Western world blossomed, while much of the remainder struggled. To downgrade their achievements, and pretend the Renaissance appeared out of nowhere, is disrespectful of our ancestors.

The Greeks honored the Egyptians; the Romans the Greeks. The West took the ruins of Rome and built something better. A true dark time was our own 20th Century with its unprecedented wars. Maybe that’s when we started to ignore the voices from the past?

We don’t want to gloss over the failures of the past, but nor do we want to look down upon our ancestors and ignore their achievements. So perhaps this is the perfect time of year to think about these things, surrounded as we are in Christmas traditions — many of which come down to us from the Middle Ages. Check out this video and take a moment to remember where many of us came from:

Middle Ages

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Losing History

President Obama has caused quite the controversy by making comparisons of ISIS’s campaign of terror to the Crusades. I will let others debate what, how and why he said everything that he did. Since this site does touch on history time to time, I will discuss his comparison. How do I put this nicely?

It’s absolutely ridiculous.

The Crusades are often brought up primarily by those looking to attack Christians or knock them down a bit. They have fed the perception that the Crusades were all about expanding empires and destroying Islam. The problem is that this perception isn’t history.

It’s revisionist history.

During the early history of Christianity, its population was centered in what we typically refer to as part of the Middle East (technically the Near East and Asia Minor). It’s hard for some to imagine that a country like Egypt was once predominately Christian. What is left out of drive-by comments about the Crusades is the part about the Muslim Conquests that swept through the region, conquering nearly all of it. Princeton scholar Bernard Lewis wrote:

At the present time, the Crusades are often depicted as an early expansionist imperialism — a prefigurement of the modern European countries. To people of the time, both Muslim and Christian, they were no such thing. The Crusade was a delayed response to the jihad, the holy war for Islam, and its purpose was to recover by war what had been lost by war — to free the holy places of Christendom and open them once again, without impediment, to Christian pilgrimage.

Were the Crusades full of tragedies, horrible events and misguided people on both sides? Yes, because all war is a horrible tragedy. That doesn’t mean we rewrite history for our agendas. We let history, the good and the bad, speak for itself. We learn from it, so we don’t repeat it. Or, as George Orwell said, “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”

The revisionism of the Crusades is such an obvious one, it’s sad to see world leaders repeat it. We’ve lost respect for the importance of history. Instead, we have replaced it with superficial study, politics and the tendency of too easily believing everything we hear. We are in danger of losing the messages our ancestors have left for us.

The very messages that can preserve humanity’s future.

crbks

Categories: Critical Thinking, History | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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