There is history, and there’s History.
Lower case history tends to be personal. It happens to all of us as we go through our little lives. Upper case History more often involves the rise and fall of nations, civilizations, great leaders and vile despots. Such history generally relies on a fair amount of hard facts and reliably recorded data.
Hard facts have always been a stumbling block for me. I’m inclined to step around the side of any fact and imagine how it would look without its makeup. It’s my firmly held belief that perception influences data. At least that’s how it seems from my angle.
This aspect of history baffled me throughout my academic years. I struggled to get through every history class. The sheer volume of history was just too discouraging.
However, as we learn if we give History a chance, Time changes everything. Including history.
Television has dramatically enhanced the way history is shared. Ever since Ken Burns began making his engaging documentaries about defining events such as the Civil War, the Dust Bowl, and World War II, as well as his inspiring films dealing with social and cultural topics such as Prohibition, Jazz, and The Brooklyn Bridge, history has escaped from the quiet pages of books. In Burns’s films the soul and passion of history are revealed.
As may be apparent from the gushing, lately I’ve come around on History. While reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s thrilling Team of Rivals I was enthralled by the wisdom, the patience, and the sheer goodness of Lincoln. Now I’m reading David McCullough’s fascinating The Great Bridge and learning things about Brooklyn I’d never known, in spite of the fact that my Dad was born and raised there.
Admittedly, history may never grip the general population the way reality TV apparently does. But I’ve been delighted to learn that history buffs come in all sizes and uniforms. As regular readers of this blog may be tired of hearing already, I am a baseball fan. I have my favorites among the teams and certain players whose skill and style lift my mood. One of these is the National’s Anthony Rendon, who shines wherever they put him on the field.
However, Rendon ruffled a few feathers recently when, in answer to a reporter’s question about whether he would be watching the All Star Game during the break, he replied that he didn’t like to watch baseball because it was too long and boring. And that he preferred to watch The History Channel.
The way the media fell all over themselves analyzing this shocker was good for a few laughs. You would have thought he’d insulted the Pope. Some fair-minded reporters suggested that perhaps he had been kidding.
Well, all kidding aside, I’d like to think Rendon enjoys The History Channel from time to time. I mean, Ken Burns made a great documentary about baseball, too. What’s not to love?