Welcome to 'Lost in the Myths of History'
It often seems that many prominent people of the past are wronged by often-repeated descriptions, which in time are taken as truth. The same is also true of events, which are frequently presented in a particular way when there might be many alternative viewpoints. This blog is intended to present a different perspective on those who have often been lost in the myths of history.
Sunday, 25 September 2011
Walter Tull - A Truly Moving Story
Race, gender, creed and class seem like some of the most bizarrely fabricated excuses to create division and discord between people and it often seems that when there is disharmony between people the response of the minority or ‘weaker’ group is either to rise up in anger or to fall into the role of victim. So-called ‘class wars’, for example, give rise to the most horrible revolutions wherein (as Matterhorn shows in the post before this) people can turn into savages in some mass-hysterical frenzy that excuses the murder of innocent people like the children and servants of Tsar Nicholas II; or people become ill or helpless and play a martyr role blaming their situation on their circumstances which, I think, is often pandered to by the ‘welfare state’ in which generation after generation see themselves in a hopeless situation and make no effort to change things for the better. In the same way, there were countless women who simply submitted to their presumed inferior status to men, hiding their talents and suffocating (falling into fainting fits or dying of consumption), while others became so aggressive in their extreme Feminism that all sense of womanly-ness (including motherhood) was seen as weakness. Equally, there are people who so aware of the history of the prejudice against their race that they jump at the opportunity of expressing a victim mentality wherein they recall events of centuries ago and blame the successors of their oppressors for their present ills. Harewood House is a case in point – it was built largely on the fortunes made through the slave trade, and not long ago someone claimed that the present Earl should compensate the descendants of those slaves today! (Well, if we get into that, where will it end? Should the French compensate us for the Battle of Hastings? Should we compensate the French for Waterloo? Do I owe my great-great-grandfather’s creditors’ descendants for any debts he didn’t pay?).
Last night I saw a wonderfully touching drama from the BBC about a man whom I had never heard of before, although, apparently, there is a statue of him now outside Spurs football stadium. Walter Tull – the first black professional footballer, and the first black commissioned officer in the British army in the First World War. This brilliant man encountered prejudice in his sporting and military career but, if you have the chance to see this video, it shows that he was too big a person to allow that nonsense to confine him. He was neither aggressor nor victim, but a ‘real man’ who rose above those silly labels to being the best he could be . Throughout this film, I did not think of him for a minute as a ‘black man’ (or a ‘white man’ for that matter!!) but simply as a very self-aware, dignified and thoughtful human being. This film – whether or not it is accurate - seems to transcend anything to do with those false divisions and just show a truly noble spirit. (Incidentally, I do not believe in war and most particularly I cannot think of a more futile war than the First World War but this is still a very lovely - and very moving - story of a wonderful man who breaks down the unnecessary barriers and shows what it is to be dignified and powerful without being either a victim or an aggressor.
The film is an hour long and in many parts on YouTube: