What is it Like to Watch History Being Written?

Somehow, it is 2022.  We all have survived so much these last couple years that really have tested our strength as a community and as a whole.  The pandemic being the main one that comes to mind.  The statistics do not lie.  In the United States alone, we have had over 80 million cases and almost a million deaths thus far.  And that doesn’t even compare to the amount of cases worldwide.  Over 500 million cases and over 6 million deaths.  At least for me, this is the most world shattering event that I have had to face and encounter head on.  Not just an event read about in history books.  We are actively living in it and watching the history of our lives being written. All of these numbers will be remembered and all the lives that have been lost will not be forgotten.

And that is not all that had happened.  While the horrors of what is happening are not directly impacting us, we are witnessing a war take place right in front of us.  It almost feels unreal that as soon as we begin recovering from the amount of loss we have faced from Covid and are starting to return back to some semblance of normality, we jump right into a war.  This war has sent sort of a shock down all of our spines and made us realize that despite the fact that we have tried to change as a community, in becoming more kind towards each other and less hateful, there are still people out there who remain so.  In the case of World War 2, it was Hitler and his heartless war crimes against the Jews.  Even in the U.S., we were not compassionate and understanding. We let our fear and hatred blind us from our rationality and caused us to actively discriminate against an entire race just because of an action from a country across the sea.  We were scared irrationally and as a result, we have yet another tainted piece of history in the history books to look at and say “never again”.

So much of our history could have been drastically different if only we were not so hateful against other people.  And now we must recite the endless mantra of remembering our mistakes from the past and allow them to never be forgotten and occur again.  At least we have the survivors who live today and tell their story about how life in the history books affected them.   And that brings up the central question that surrounds all of us and one that we ourselves can answer.  What is it like to watch history being written?

It is so important and absolutely essential that we never forget any part of our history that impacted humanity on a detrimental scale.  If we forget and do not educate future generations about our mistakes and the errors in our ways, then we risk it occurring again. 

It is also imperative that we do not change our history to hide certain parts of our past to make ourselves look better and to avoid acknowledging our faults.  There are many instances of this occurring as it has become a continuous issue throughout the country.  Many states are pushing against teaching the concept of critical race theory in schooling as people believe it is an inaccurate way of viewing our history.  However that is false and wrong on two levels.  Firstly, critical race theory is an academic concept that explains that race and racism are social constructs and ingrained into our legal systems and overall society as a whole and are not just products of bias and prejudice.  An example of this is in the United States in the 1930’s, government officials made decisions about certain areas that were determined to be “poor financial risks” solely because of the race of the citizens living there.  And many banks would refuse to offer mortgages and loans to Black people in those areas that were deemed poor by the officials.  

There are many more pieces of evidence that proves this theory however, people do not want their children to learn this theory as according to Brian Seitz, a Missouri Republican State Representative, “revisionist history, seeking to determine our national origins to be based on a negative act (slavery), therefore, everything that follows, including The Constitution, The Declaration of Independence, Capitalism, our healthcare system, road systems, even the foods that we eat are fatally flawed and inherently ‘racist.'”  Which is something that many people do not want to acknowledge or believe in, despite all of the evidence proving this theory to be truthful.  But this whole idea of banning it from our classrooms doesn’t make much sense as they are banning a graduate level concept from being taught in a traditional K-12 school.  

This concept wouldn’t have even been taught in our schools as it is a graduate level legal concept and it is not taught in K-12.  The logic in banning something like this, at least to me, doesn’t make much sense and doesn’t require so much attention being put on it.

Though something that does require attention is people wanting to censor parts of our history and avoid teaching it to the children.  Censorship is a touchy topic but it must be acknowledged as a bad thing in regards to history and censoring aspects of it.  And people argue that it is to spare the children and to avoid having them learn such things at a young age and learn later on when they are older.  But take, for example, the Holocaust, one of the worst events to ever occur in human history and one of the most detrimental genocides of our time.  Germany legally requires the teaching of the Nazi era and the Holocaust in their curriculum as they have acknowledged that it is something that must be taught to the young as it is crucial that they learn the mistakes of the past and ensure that it is to never happen again. 

But here in the United States, we still have people wanting to censor aspects of our history that are drastically important to remember.  By rewriting history, we are changing the narrative of what our country is built upon and impacting it for many future generations to come.  For example, Texas has been trying to integrate a new system in which the teaching of slavery and racism in their history is obscured and doesn’t paint them in such a terrible light.  Again, by doing so, history is being erased right in front of our eyes and if we are not careful, we can lose sight of what is actually real and what is not.

Which perfectly segues into why it is so necessary for people who have lived through important moments of history to talk about and educate others about what life was like for them and how they were treated.  George Takei did exactly that.  He played a character on Star Trek and in being that, gained much fame, popularity, and notability which allowed things he said and did to spread more traction throughout the world.  Using this, he wrote a graphic novel, They Called Us Enemy, about his experience being sent to the Japanese concentration camps during World War 2.  By doing so, we now get a glimpse into what it was like for him to go through that at such a young age and it allows us to learn from it and see what we did and how we acted in past history.  

Another example of this was a film created by Steven Spielberg called The Last Days.  This film follows five victims of the Holocaust from Hungary and what the last year of the war was like for them.  It is absolutely heartbreaking to hear their stories as it is worse than anything we could have possibly imagined.  Some were sent to Auschwitz and the things that they said about life there tears through your soul and makes you realize that there are people out there who are unfortunately heartless and soulless monsters.  But it is essential that these films are made as without hearing from the survivors, we would have never known what life in the camps was actually like.  The whole purpose of the film according to Spielberg was the fact that he wanted to ensure that part of our history was not lost forever because many of the survivors of the Holocaust are begining to pass away and they are the last remnants of that aspect of history. Things like this allow us to see into the past and acknowledge, understand, and educate ourselves on the past actions that we have done and it allows us to peek into the minds of the people and see what it was like for them to witness history being written in front of them.

This also touches back on the ideas of blaming people for the sake of needing to assign responsibility and irrational fear causing people to lash out in ways that in hindsight, should not be occurring.  An example of this is right now during the Pandemic.  The Covid 19 Virus evolved from the SARS-CoV-2 virus and has wreaked havoc on the world and has changed us and society as we know it.  Now we are recovering and developing vaccines to help us return back to normality and so the fear of the disease has lessened, but in the very beginning, it was all people could worry and fear over.  And as a result of this fear, people started to target and pinpoint the blame on people.

The first outbreak of the disease was in China and of course, this caused a whole slew of conspiracy theories to break out such as it was developed in a lab in China to release on the United States and so on and so forth.  And these rumors spread rapidly and people began to believe them and out of fear, started to hate the Chinese.  However, people started to take this further and started blaming and attacking all Asians.  It didn’t matter the race to them, they just needed a target and someone to bestow their hatred upon.  And it was getting really bad as the attacks were getting more and more severe and dangerous.  I even remember being fearful going out with my friends to the Ding Tea next to my house because of the attacks and we were told repeatedly by our parents to be careful and if anything happened, to fight like our lives depended on it because it might have.  This APA hatred is terrible and wholly unjust and should never have escalated so far all because of a rumor.  But this again unfortunately ties back to fear causing people to lose sight of themselves and their dignity and sanctity.

Lastly, returning back to the point of the war in Ukraine right now.  We are living through moments that will never be forgotten and analyzed by historians for years to come.  And while much bad has come out of it, some good has as well in showing the kindness of people.  Ukranians are fleeing Ukraine to escape the horrors of what is happening there and people have rallied together to help the citizens and provide them with all of the support they need to survive and get out safely.  In one instance, kindness was repaid by a refugee family that was trying to escape Ukraine and were brought safely to Israel by the grandchildren of a Jewish family.  That Jewish family’s grandmother was actually sheltered by that family during World War 2 because of the incarceration of the Jews and because of that, she managed to survive and now her family is repaying the kindness that was bestowed upon them so many years ago.  This shows that while it may not seem like it sometimes, kindness is always here and when around the right people, it will show through greatly.

History is being written as we know it every second of everyday that we live on and do things.  Every action we take will be forever ingrained and become a part of the history of our world.  Every word we say, every step we take, all of it will never leave.  We are living through history as we speak and so, we must make sure to remember the mistakes of our past so as to ensure a good future for new generations to come.  After all, in the end we will all become history.

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