Tuesday 13 January 2015

History is a Mystery

During my somewhat brief sojourn back to my childhood whilst rewatching Sabrina the Teenage Witch a few months ago I had several of those 'Oh, now I get it!' moments as you do when re-watching something that merely entertained and fascinated you as a child with limited understanding of the world.

The basic premise of the story is that when Sabrina is a half-witch, half-mortal who is sent to live with her witch aunts in the lead up to her 16th birthday when she will then come into her powers and taught to use them wisely by her aunts who are around 600 years old respectively. Along with the hilarious talking cat Salem, they help her grow into her powers which then allows her to get her Witches License and use magic freely and responsibly.

As you can imagine, being a teenager isn't easily, let alone when you have to reign in magical powers whilst trying to hide the fact that you're a witch. Nevertheless, between zany Aunt Hilda and intellectual Aunt Zelda with a decent dosage of wise-cracking cat Salem, hilarity doesn't cease to ensue.

Given the ages of the aunts and the history of witches dating back hundreds of years, there are many references made to various events and non-events throughout the ages which are used as part of anecdotes and to teach Sabrina lessons from their lives.

This got me thinking about events in history and the things we know about them versus what we're finding out through discovery of artifacts and other things which bring to light startling new evidence for each event.

Jokes are made about events which no one has ever heard of and presumably doesn't exist, but what if they actually did happen and only a handful of people know of them?!

Just because something is written down doesn't make it true, conversely, just because something isn't written down doesn't mean it didn't happen or doesn't exist. It simply wasn't written down.

Salem tried to take over the world and was sentenced to live for 100 years as a cat and stuck with the family since Aunt Hilda was one of his allies so caring for him was her punishment.

In one of his stories he refers to something called Bobunk. While it's merely used in light humour and no one believes it exists because they've never heard of it, he still talks about it. It kind of makes you wonder what else history has forgotten and therefore been erased for the following generations.

I remember my history class back in high school. I wasn't terribly interested in it and paid only enough attention to pass the class before purging my mind of pretty much everything I'd learnt to make room for things I found more interesting. Now in university as well as reading things here and there, I'm finding myself questioning or even just learning new things about old events or occurrences which I was taught were fact because someone had published a text book on it and a bunch of other people looked at it and thought 'that seems legit, let's teach it to kids!'.

Yes there are hundreds, thousands, probably millions of sources for everything of great consequence, most of which say the same thing in different words, but just because a majority of people believe one thing doesn't necessarily mean that it's right, it just means that a majority of people believe it.

I'm not denying that epic historical events occurred, I don't have that kind of power or knowledge to justify anything close to those accusations, especially since so many people have lived through them and told their respective tales. I'm merely saying that history is an ever unraveling mystery that you can never be absolutely or completely certain about regardless of what you hear or read.

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