I love Stephen Fry.
Having been Oscar Wilde, sorted out poetry with The Ode Less Travelled, directed movies, saved pandas or sloths or some such thing, he’s now made his mark on history.
Here’s his marvellous speech launching the History Matters campaign, on which I grandstanded a few days ago (or maybe it was more a soapbox):
We haven’t arrived at our own moral and ethical imperatives by each of us working them out from first principles; we have inherited them and they were born out of blood and suffering, as all human things and human beings are. This does not stop us from admiring and praising the progressive heroes who got there early and risked their lives to advance causes that we now take for granted.
In the end, I suppose history is all about imagination rather than facts. … Knowing is not enough…
History is not the story of strangers, aliens from another realm; it is the story of us had we been born a little earlier. History is memory; we have to remember what it is like to be a Roman, or a Jacobite or a Chartist or even – if we dare, and we should dare – a Nazi. History is not abstraction, it is the enemy of abstraction.