In the past, when we looked back on historical events, we were able to decipher correlation from causation after the fact…but those with military, political, or social power controlled the interpretation that became widely known.
This power to determine history, in the short or even longer term, was made weaker by the invention of the printing press and later newspapers.
Now that we have digital media and any one of us can voice an opinion for others to hear, perhaps we will get closer to an ideal world where something approaching truth will emerge for our collective interpretation of past events.
A cynic might say that the masses will be more easily swayed by sentiment or the power of manipulative rhetoric, but it has been my experience that most people are smarter than we give them credit for and often they are limited by their linguistic training.
As our tools of digital interaction, translation and sharing continue to increase, I am excited about the potential for us to enter a more truly democratic world, where we learn from our past through a process of sharing, interpretation and learning through increasingly rapid cycles of feedback.
Perhaps through this process we will not only learn more about our past, but we might even be able to learn more about each other and eliminate some of the fears and misunderstandings that drive much of the negativity and violence that still unfortunately plagues our world.