History Doesn't Pick Winners by Tim Jones
History doesn't pick winners. We know just as much
about everyone who ever crossed the Rubicon
as we know about Julius Caesar.
The first duty of conquerors
is to record the lives of the vanquished.
Those who survive become a living archive:
in crowded jails,
in resettlement camps, they enjoy
their daily colloquy with an attentive historian.
Cortes and his army of scribes taught Montezuma
smallpox and Spanish. Gold poured from the emperor's tongue:
a way of life reborn in parchment, speech and song.
The colonial project was all about preservation.
The missionaries arrived with cases of type
in which to capture language.
History doesn't pick winners. They will
record our deeds as best they can: the rats, the roaches, the fungi,the huge and reddened sun.
All are welcome -- come share a drink and buy a copy.
I don't think Tim's poem needs much of an introduction. It is very direct and on target. The future does not need us. Tim says that the poem was sparked by an observation by the historian E.M. Carr that millions of humans have crossed the Rubicon river in Northeastern Italy, but that historians have only chosen to treat the crossing of the Rubicon by Julius Caesar in 49 BCE as an important "historical fact".
(for more see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What_Is_History%3F)