One of the largest of our self-deceptions is that history is fixed. The first impulse is to think of history as authoritative. But it always changes. The most obvious reason is that power rules the writing and circulation of history. The cross we must bear is the obligation to say what history actually is.

History is what we make it. It is the result of long-standing conflicts that change according to conditions. We can understand the present by examining the difference between what history tells us and what the present suggests. Tomorrow’s history will be different than today’s.

The fortunes of Facebook can serve as a small example of a universal truth. Here is today’s New York Times Facebook story.

Democracy can fool you

We might infer that democracy is receiving blow after blow these days. After all, our worst fears are coming true. There are people in the world who see deception and lying as perfectly OK and if they can sway an election in the bargain, that’s the breaks.

A longer term view would see this viewpoint as problematic. We could argue that today’s conventional history ignores the spread of democratic ideas and the actual rise of democratic governments.

123 out of 192

There are 192 countries of which 123 are presently deemed democratic. Some major powers are sadly in the hands of dictators and authoritarian rulers and some democracies suffer from brutality in high places, but overall the future of democracy must be judged neither “none” or a “walk in the park”.

As with all struggles, things are in flux.

History is at best a snapshot. It is scarcely more reliable than trusting your reading of today’s news to be an accurate image of Reality.

We're getting better

Consider Charlottesville or Ferguson or Charlotte as signs in the sweepstakes of history and ask yourself what will win, racism or tolerance. The good, always, eventually holds sway.

History is the record of the struggle.

Of course, history and control over it is a struggle in itself. The presence of billions online now, an infant reality, could well be the 100th monkey in terms of tilting the world toward good. People's natural sympathies are empathetic, regardless of the plethora of contradictions published daily. It is still the case that those who talk less do more that is positive. And the positive has something on its side -- the future.

Efforts to revive an ideal history that features evil impulses have already proved no match for the fact that there is only tomorrow and we are its makers.