Wednesday, 14 April 2010

History. Who's story?

We had a timely reminder of the complexities of revisiting history the other night. A friend was recounting a version of the events surrounding Srebrenica in 1995 that she had heard from someone, who heard heard it from someone who had said they were there. The story was very different from the one widely reported, the story the has Karadzic currently on trial in the Hague.


It'd be too easy to say they were obviously misinformed. So much depends on perspective. I grew up being taught history from an English (or British, if you prefer) perspective; the things that are invariably told as triumphs are also someone else's tragedies. History is so often left in the hands of the victorious. The official version that is. But if the vanquished live to tell the tale they will tell it and the two will not agree.


Is true objectivity obtainable? Somehow I doubt it. Should we seek it? Probably. I know I should type an emphatic yes but permit me my pragmatism. Those who do not want to believe will never buy a version of history they don't agree with, however high the court that decreed it. The 'probably' recognises that some will find closure in the establishing of facts. My question is whether, so long after the fact, any ruling will be enough to heal the hurt and hatred. Are such changes of heart a usual result of judicial decision making?


The future lies not in attributing blame but in enabling reconciliation. The person who discovers the perfect prescription for that can take out the patent on world peace.

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