If you set aside Russian interference, fake news, political squabbling, and photographs of cute puppies, Facebook really is a remarkable tool.
It sometimes affords us the opportunity, the spark, to think beyond where we are. I suspect I’m like most Americans: I get too easily entangled in the minutia of daily living to think beyond my overly cluttered existence.
That’s a reason why I’ve always admired people like Stephen Hawking and some theologians—they focus on The Big Picture. Who are we? Where did we come from? Where are we headed?
Early this morning—after I let the dog out to do its business, after I pondered whether I put 10 or 11 teaspoons of coffee in the coffee maker, and right after I checked to make sure I didn’t put my tee shirt on backwards, again—I ran across a Facebook posting that caught my interest.
The posting involved two of my high school friends, neither of whom I have seen since we graduated 50 years ago. (But I’ve kept up with them on Facebook, another benefit of Facebook).
Pat Pearce, a very talented musician in Kansas City, Mo., posted the photograph that you see on this page. This is a reposting. The photo has circulated widely on Facebook.
To which William (Bill) Shull, a successful and astute lawyer in Warrensburg, Mo., commented: “Pure coincidence, obviously. The dude on the left only has four fingers on his right hand! Actually, that is amazing if it’s true. It makes you wonder if ‘historians’ actually have factual history figured out.”
Pat’s posting and Bill’s comment brought about memories of a book that I read years ago. It was by an archaeologist (sorry, I don’t recall his name or the book title) who wrote about why there are ancient pyramids located in most cultures around the world.
His take—no, not that ancient aliens built the pyramids around the world—was that trade routes back then were more widely established, even across oceans, than what is commonly believed today.
As commerce was established, religious missionaries made their way into native cultures and brought along concepts like pyramids. Sometimes conquerors came, too, and so did shifts in cultures, and there was an establishment of new norms imported from other cultures. Then comes McDonald’s, Air Jordan tennies and tee shirts displaying Bob Marley (Oh, well, hmm, this last bit is my take on the archaeologist’s take).
Bill brought up an interesting point in his comment: Do historians “actually have factual history figured out”?
My answer: seldom, sometimes, not often, more often than not, no, maybe yes, heck, I got no idea.
It’s easy to interpret history incorrectly, especially on cultures that existed many thousands of years ago and no written records exist today. And it’s even easy to re-interpret and reshape history where written histories do exist today. Think Columbus—once a good guy (back when I was in elementary school), then a bad guy as details about him emerged. Think Hitler, bent on wiping out anything Jewish. Think of what’s happening now—some American political leaders are trying to rewrite history in their own image.
One of my great interests is the 1804-06 Lewis & Clark Expedition. The explorers maintained extensive journals of what they saw and experienced. Their journals have been published word-for-word multiple times over the last two centuries. Many, many books have been published about the two leaders, their companions, the natives they met, the landscape, and the wildlife. The amount of scholarly research is stunningly impressive.
I’ve found, though, that sometimes modern interpretation of historical figures or events may be less accurate than what actually occurred or what people were all about. Even for the most careful of historians and writers, one missed word in the reading of the journals, the incorrect analysis of a vague phrase, an inability to understand what it’s really like to be attacked by a grizzly bear—and suddenly the facts of history are unintentionally revised. Try as one might, it’s impossible to feel the sweat and physical strain of something that happened in the past, the mental anxiety of a person, the real thought process behind why a person did this or that.
After I let in my dog, who is now snoring on the couch, and remembered I had put in three too many teaspoons of coffee, I did a bit of online research on the photograph reposted by Pat. The photo appears to have originated from research done by Jim Allen, author of Atlantis: Lost Kingdom of the Andes (I haven’t read this book). Click here for more info about Jim’s research. Disclaimer: I make no guarantee on the photo’s authenticity, whether Jim Allen actually exists, or, for that matter, whether who I am that I think I am.
It’s been an enjoyable and interesting morning thanks to Pat, Bill, and the photo. I got to ponder part of The Big Picture.
And I discovered I do have my tee shirt on correctly, for once.
And I got to wonder when the aliens will return. This time, will they bring intelligent life to Earth?