Why study history? History is why we are where we are. History is what makes America unique. History is the story of individuals (“microhistory” as I like to call it), while also simultaneously being about the larger, broader picture (“macrohistory”). Biography is less of its own field and more of a subset of the study of history. Regardless of one’s personal beliefs and views, certain historical events happened, the writing is right there, right in the sand. The record is on the pristine white shirt in ink that is blacker than the deepest abyss on Earth. History provides one with the context of the story of you, to the story of America, of the West, of the East, of the World, and of humanity. Starting out as hunter-gathering cavemen and cavewomen, we have reached the point where the device I’m typing this on has access to something known as the “internet” which provides almost instantaneous communication between any two people in nearly any two places with some notable exceptions.
Freedom. The defining characteristic of the American condition. Is taken from the writings of enlightenment philosophers, and in the founders’ minds were justified by the egalitarian nature of humanity as whole. However, despite their idyllic view, the fact remains that many of those very same founders held slaves. The institution of slavery was an institution to consolidate and further expand the power of the few, at the cost of most. Plantation owners, the rich, white men of the southern states in the timeframe between the American Revolutionary War and the American Civil War did everything in their power to keep themselves high on the hog, while both African-Americans and poor whites were some of those that they endeavored to keep lower on the social totem pole and pit them against each other.
There was also significant maltreatment of females in all of American society. Moreover, one only has to go back 100 years in a proverbial time machine to be in an America where women did not have the right to vote. Furthermore, for what would seem like ages they were the property of their husbands with no legal rights whatsoever, independent of their male spouses. These anti-feminine rights run directly counter to the society today where oftentimes women are shown favorable treatments in divorce and child custody proceedings. Additionally, contrary to years past, marriage is no longer a lifelong commitment codified by law as much as a lifelong commitment codified by one’s own ethics, while being a temporary partnership as codified by the law.
For an example, in Israel marriage is as much controlled by the religious bodies of the country itself as by the state itself. For many Jewish Israeli households the Ketubah is not only a sacred religious artefact but also a binding legal document. Christians and Muslims also have the same control over marriage (their respective religious authorities control marriage between their constituents). It makes sense that one’s religion should play a vital, pivotal role in one’s own lifelong romantic partnership as codified by their religious beliefs. In America that is no longer the case. Now partnerships that religious groups view very seriously and started as a way to ensure the modern human child was raised in a “good” atmosphere. With both parents being present to foster character growth to ensure the refinement and stability of human society and civilization. If it was not for the nuclear family unit, humanity would not have developed into this advanced, technological age (or at least in the same way).
When one asks the seemingly intriguing question of “What period in the past would you wish to live?” The answer for me is a well-informed “none.” There is no other time besides today to be living. Advancements in medical technology and whatnot have drastically reduced the number of maternal and/or infant deaths in childbirth to a negligible amount. Only approximately 100 years ago, a premature death meant almost certain death, and the slightest birth defect could have meant the cursed half-life of those in prisons and insane asylums. Infant and maternal mortality are the lowest they have ever been in human existence.
My worst fear is that I am unable to have a family and raise them. Deadbeat parents both male and female, mom and dad, are a scourge on American society. Uninvolved parents are perhaps in a way even worse than abusive parents, because abusive parents at least provide some level of guidance in terms of what not to do, as opposed to no guidance whatsoever. Provided, neither uninvolved nor abusive is anywhere close to the ideal. Parents must be able to set a positive example of masculinity and femininity for their children, as well as provide them with guidance, emotional, and physical support.
Without studying history one just may be apt to view historical inaccuracies, half-truths or downright lies as true. Nazi Germany is a fine example of the noble institution of Democracy, gone wrong, in effect it became the very thing it swore to destroy (to reference Star Wars). However, partially due to the Enabling Act, which granted Hitler certain powers, as if the Reichstag was the Senate of the Galactic Republic, the act of war-orchestrating, and other extra-Democratic means (such as the “Brownshirts” of Hitler’s SA). Rome is another notable example. Although with Rome there is the added corollaries of loyalty of the soldiers to his superiors (in a cult of personality intertwined with the roles played in family life), as well as the Roman Senate itself being a more aristocratic, autocratic domain of power. One of the powerful institutions of Rome was only Democratic indirectly by a stretch.
For some history is represented by the dusty volumes on the shelves of libraries and bookstores. But, what they fail to realize that history is made every day. The Public policy, acts, and current events of today are tomorrow’s technical history. However, before a certain point has passed it is impossible to state the actual effects of a particular event on the world stage. While 9/11 can sort of be studied, it would be studied in light of events as concurrent as Trump’s indictment and Netanyahu’s actions to decrease the power of the Supreme Court of Israel.
Student views expressed in opinion articles on The General reflect the opinion of the author and not necessarily that of the publication itself.