Still More Reasons to Study History
July 15, 2016
I think some of my frustration with some of the issues in the news right now is the lack of understanding of history. I hear various voices speaking as if they have made new, profound discoveries, but they are repeating insights made generations, if not centuries, ago that apparently many have not bothered to study. These issues regard slavery and race relations in America, the role of family in society, principles of freedom in society, and how oppressed peoples erupt like pressure cookers.
On Charlie Rose, his guest just stated: “We have never really discussed the legacy of slavery in this country.” Oh, good grief — where have you been? If you haven’t thought about or discussed or read or studied the legacy of slavery in America, it is because you have chosen not to do so. Understanding America’s place in world history of slavery is vital to understanding the perspective of those at the time. We fail to to do that. I have long argued that America’s racial conflicts grew out not of slavery but Reconstruction and later era of injustice. Equality is equality. Putting one group ahead of another is not equality, and that is why racial quotas and federal pressure for Affirmative Action have bred racial resentment rather than social peace. Manipulation people’s fears is not discussion, let’s face that fact. Building a poetical movement on fallacies does not breed social justice. To claim that we have never discussed these issues in American is denial. Family therapists recognize quickly what issues are at the center of family conflict: those issues that are constantly brought up and those that are never brought up. One extreme or the other indicates that issues have not been resolved. A healthy family or society can discuss these issues when pertinent and with sincere calm.
Talking of families — George Will published an op-ed this week discussing how families are important to society and social sciences prove it. Oh, good grief — we might as well talk about how round wheels work better than square ones. No slight on Mr. Will, but why are we still — STILL — discussing the need for stable, intact, and healthy families?
Stable families create stable societies, just as free people are more content and live more peaceably. Duh. Centralized political power is inherently oppressive. Take note of Americans so pissed off, they are supporting a transparent marketing demagogue and they don’t care that they are being manipulated. It’s a self-destructive tendency, sure, but that is the problem with irrational anger.
Lastly, Russia has always served as a prime example of a pressure-cooker people. The entire Middle East and the oppression of fundamentalist Muslim governments has taken Russia’s place. One key difference is that Russians targeted their own political power with their terrorism and revolts, and Muslims target other peoples and political entities. Whether an attribute of Arabian culture or a Muslim religious expression, the Middle East has exported its terrorism and violence with unprecedented success. Their shared oppression is the world’s tragedy.
As if we need more reasons to study history to understand humanity, the daily news confirms it.