Recently, the Texas State Board of Education voted to implement changes to Texas school textbooks. These controversial changes appear to implement a bias towards a conservative right leaning view of history. These changes included a greater emphasis on the conservative resurgence of recent years, reducing the scope of coverage on Latino history and culture, limiting certain references to Thomas Jefferson in the founding of our country, and more. Due to the number of books Texas buys, there are concerns that these decisions will cascade into the books available for other states.
These changes have set off a debate regarding what exactly is history, who gets to decide what our history actually is? This debate is not new… I’ve heard it said before, that the winners (meaning whoever holds power) get to define history. As power changes hands, the presented history generally gets rewritten.
It’s easy to believe that there is only “one history.” After all, a review of the past with objective eyes should tend to see the same history. The issue, of course, is the difficulty we all have in being completely objective. No matter how objective we think we really are, we have cultural, and worldview biases, which creep in and cover the lens by which we see life.
Personally I don’t agree with the changes the Texas State Board of Education is making. But I’m also not so naïve to believe that the existing textbooks were not created without another set of biases affecting them. Whenever a book is written or class content is being assembled, some decisions are made. Those decisions, always represent the worldview of the people who are deciding.
So on and on it goes, back and forth, rewriting and rewriting history, tweaking it towards what we’d like to emphasize. Will we ever agree on one objective history?
I frequently call for us to consider the highest possibilities for our future. But what does that really mean? I know what it means to me. Yet it might mean something different to you.
If we can’t agree on our past, if our past is constantly being modified by the worldview of those in power, but how can we ever agree on what’s best for our future? The human truth is that we may never get consensus on what our highest future should be. There might be some general concepts on which most of us could agree, then we would have differences of opinion on how to best move forward towards implementing those concepts.
For example, we might all agree that a positive future is one where all people have access to clean drinking water. But beyond that agreement, I suspect we might disagree on the best way to create that reality.
The variety of human beliefs and human worldviews appears to be a reality that will always be part of our world. Truth be told, I’m not sure many of us would want to live in a world where we all thought alike. If we all thought the same thing, it would be like a closed system with no influx of new life and energy. Like the Dead Sea, the world would become very stagnant. The variety of ideas ensures newness and growth.
Yet even if we never can agree totally on what the best idea for our collective future really is, I still believe holding conversations around that future and setting intentions towards it are an important task for humanity.
Tomorrow — I want to look at one vision statement for that highest possible future, the global heart vision statement for the Centers for Spiritual Living. We will review it and ask ourselves to consider what it really means. To the degree it gives us a blueprint for a positive future, we will come back to Chip Heath and Dan Heath’s book “Switch” to see what suggestions it offers us in moving towards that future.
To be continued…
Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!