19 April 2010

The Winners Write the History

I think we all recognize that history is certainly open to interpretation and that an "objective" view of history is hard to find. The historical slant can be as subtle (or overt) as whether or not a conflict is classified as a revolution or civil war. I am sure the British would have a different label for the "American Revolution" if the outcome had been a bit different. Come to think of it, the British probably have a different name for it anyway. In other news, I should probably know this, but either haven't heard it or have just not cared enough to note the British perspective.
I think most of us would acknowledge that each major political player would have its own version of history. But what about Iceland? (Ok, I just thought of that random example because of the volcanic ash that is currently wreaking havoc on the world. Kudos, Iceland, you are back on the map.) Or how about Luxembourg? Surely such a little country can't have enough involvement in history to really have its OWN perspective. And prior to my last set of travels, I had never even thought about whether or not Scotland or Wales would have a strong national historical perspective. If I were to be completely honest, I am still intellectually fuzzy on the difference between the UK, Great Britain, and the various units therein (aka England, Scotland, Iceland--I mean Ireland, and Wales). I think I understand that Scotland is a sovereign nation, but in terms of frame of reference it makes far more sense to think of them like Texas. Sure, they have a strong regional identity, they are proud of the fact that they are independent enough to secede from the union (I know this is not news to anyone; you only have to know one person from Texas to hear this at least 20 times.), but ultimately, they are just a different version of an American. So while they might have some unique additions to the American conception of history, ultimately, they are telling the same story.
Well, all it took was three days with Kenny my Scotish tour guide of the highlands (which are incredibly beautiful by the way) to realize that you don't have to be a dominant political player to practice some good, old-fashioned, Scotish-centrism (or insert country here). In three short days, I learned a few things:

1. The Scotish really won EVERY battle that they fought with the English. (I am still puzzled as to how the English came to dominate as they have under this view of history).

2. If the English managed to win--by some technicality--it was either only a temporary victory or a result of some massive war crime barbarism. (In fact, even the current English dominance is only temporary--there is a strong Scotish separatist movement. In all honesty, that is a serious and quite interesting political situation.)

3. If you have seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you know that you can take any word and determine that at its root, it is really Greek. This is basically true with Scotland and any phenomenon in the world. That's right, now you know.

4. You will not find a country that loves Americans more than Scotland. Huh. (It was good that Kenny told me this because I hadn't yet embarked on my journey to find the country that loves Americans the most--partly because I thought it might be an impossible endeavor. And I pride myself on being an undercover American as much as possible.) But alas, it is good to know that we are loved by one of the world's true powerhouse players.

4a. You should know that part of the reason we are so well loved is because of our revolution against the British. Oh, also, the Scots were a major player in the American Revolution, just so you know.

5. The most famous Scot in the history of the world is....nope, not Adam Smith. John Wayne. (Yeah, the explanation for that one was about as convoluted as the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon).

Who knew that Scotland was such a significant state, I mean, country? Go figure.

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