It is often said that human history is one of murder, war, famine, slaughter, disease, destitution and poverty. Throughout the course of our history there have been numerous wars, wholesale murders have been perpetrated, many nations have experienced famine and disease and fully four-fifths of the planet's population continues to live and die in poverty (by Western standards of living). This is true. But an important flip side to the assessment is missing, and this missing information tells much about our basic nature. As humans, we are more likely to dwell on the dark, lamentable side of life and not give credence to the brighter days, the smiles and the successes.

Hence, human history is regarded by most as a tragic story, and the many triumphs, victories, discoveries, advancements and enlightenments that are also characteristic of our history are dismissed and often forgotten. History as it is taught in the universities, discussed in learned circles, displayed at museums and televised on history channels usually pertain to military and political history. History, unless otherwise specified, deals with kings, armies, battles, military victories and defeats, political strategies and motivations, and the rise and fall of dynasties and empires. Presumably then, history, unless otherwise specified, also includes in its annals the grim chapters of wholesale slaughter of men by men, the desecration of women, the plight of children, the destruction of cities and kingdoms, rape and pillage, and social chaos.

As we have evolved into higher states of being, it is time we alter the definitive characterization of human history as a story of tragedy, sadness, death, sickness, anger and retribution. These are all parts of our history, but they do not tell the whole story. Where am I going with this, you may think? Consider the many triumphs of humankind. Despite the shortcomings and pitfalls along the path, human history has undoubtedly been a story of progression to higher states of being, to greater awareness of our potentials and limitations, superior understanding of how the universe works and the application of our knowledge in erecting stupendous monuments and creating products that improve our health and well-being. Consider the many contributions prophets, philosophers and intellectuals have made to history. The best of their ideas and contemplations have changes the way we think and act, that is to say, they have made the greatest impact on history. Yet the full account of their words and deeds is not included under the general heading of history.

They are stored under the particular subheadings of history of philosophy or history of religion, unless, of course, the individual or movement in question had a substantial impact on political or military history. Consider the astounding discoveries in science and the resulting advancements in technology over the course of our history and especially in the past century. They are often given footnote deliberations in the pages of history. Sometimes one discovery or invention is given more in-depth reflection if it played a pivotal role in military or political history. An easy example is the discovery of the tremendous energy released upon splitting the atom and the subsequent invention of the atomic bomb.

Otherwise, if one wants a full account of the discoveries and inventions that have improved our lives tenfold, one must pull open the drawer labeled history of science or philosophy of science, as even a passive overview of such discoveries is not offered in the pages of history. Likewise, when one wants to inquire about the contributions myriad artists have made over the centuries to society, one must frequent an art history library, as such information will certainly not be accounted for in-depth in the pages of history. There is a cable channel many of us are familiar with called The History Channel. This channel gives one-sided, victor-specific accounts of military battles, the history of guns and weapons, fighter jets and their pilots, generals and troops.

Sometimes there will be specials on the inner workings of the CIA, perhaps documenting a covert operation of theirs in a foreign nation. Or we will be introduced to the main players at high levels of government that decide on strategy, perpetrate wars and decide the outcomes of millions of lives. Notice the many days of our lives that are characterized by good times, smiles, gestures of friendship, joy, personal triumph, love and sweet misery. Then a random shooting nearby or a lengthy car chase may occur and you may fall in the pitfall of characterizing life by shootings and car chases. All of the best of life is easily forgotten in your hasty assessment.

Now it is common for humans to recall the most vivid of events much more willingly than events without any salience. But when will the day come when history can be defined by art history, scientific achievements, the philosophers, prophets and laymen that have affected us most? Perhaps the labels should be switched. If one wanted to read on war, murder, weaponry, rape and pillage, and murderous generals and dictators, one could read a chapter in a book titled political and military history. Others who wanted to learn of the brightest and most pleasant sides of human nature could search the pages of history and learn of the remarkable feats, achievements, discoveries and people that paved a better future for us all.

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