American History: Facts and Interpretation Essay
American history is one of the difficult topics for discussion: on the one hand, it is impossible to change or avoid the facts, and, on the other hand, it is interesting to share personal opinions and analyze the thoughts and solutions that came from the past. I like the phrase of Howard Zinn that it is too late for modern people to accuse or judge the past.
I also think that people do not have such powers to change history and the present. They still believe that the development of analytical skills, discussions around different historical events, and choosing a definite position may work. In fact, many people cannot even notice and understand the level of their egoism when they try to analyze a historical fact and hide the truth that is not acceptable or appropriate.
The evaluation of history makes people face with numerous atrocities, injustices, and offenses. Not all people are ready for such discoveries and try to bury the facts as soon as possible. However, the facts cannot be hidden forever, and people have to face them and understand the essence of the event ever done.
American history teaches people that success, prosperity, and even simple happiness have their prices. In spite of the fact that it is wrong and even pointless to judge history and accuse the solutions of different historians, people are free to share their opinions, learn from the mistakes of other prominent figures, and understand that they are provided with a good chance to observe and compare in order to create something better with fewer losses and sacrifices.
The current paper aims at analyzing the ideas offered by Zinn about the ways people should treat their history and clarifying if it is correct to omit one historical fact in order to support another historical event. What are the role and worth of historical lies offered to the American people? The collection of the letters, reports, and descriptions Zinn introduces can be used to explain the dependency of American history and prove that the power of personal opinion is huge indeed.
Nowadays, people are not able to get a clear picture of the past because of being poorly provided with true facts and evidence. Current knowledge of American history is based on the books and information that has been changed for centuries.
Though it is possible to use the material offered and study history from the books and facts, it is not always correct to rely on the available information because it can be easily prejudiced or poorly interpreted. Some letters and real people experience Zinn provides his readers with can prove that history does not have one or two faces only. It has many more faces, with some of them being hidden from people, and some of them being overestimated.
There are many periods in American history that contain different episodes that can terrify and impress at the same time. Since Columbus discovered America, a number of events took place. I like to identify three main periods: when people understood the threats of Puritans when people became able to resist the powers of their leaders, and when people realized their possibilities to protect their rights. Each period consisted of the events that depicted a true worth of human intentions.
According to Zinn, people cannot be deprived of the possibility to observe, analyze, and make conclusions. However, it is not always possible to prove the appropriateness of such actions. Zinn wants to know if it is correct to use history as the basis for discussions and analysis, or if it is better to learn the sense of moral proportion and accept historical outrage as a deplorable price people have to pay from time to time.
The first period was when people could not accept the necessity to be dependent on religion but were too weak to resist the power of religion over them. At the beginning of the 17th century, Anne Hutchinson was accused of the intention to promote public grace. Her impact on the development of the relations between politics and religion was great. She was not afraid to talk about the powers offered by God and the boundaries created by people.
This example proved American history is based on two bases: people and God, or politics and religion, or power and destiny. This stage showed that people could not deprive themselves of the impact of religion. Still, they did not want to admit the fact that they could do nothing to resist the power of God.
It means that at the beginning, the American people understood their dependence on God’s will. However, they could not allow themselves being dependent on something. They wanted to live under someone’s protection, but they did not want to be guided all the time.
In several years, people came to the conclusion that they could be organized into groups and be led by their best representatives. The Americans wanted to have leaders in order to follow orders, understand standards, and take responsibilities.
They wanted to achieve control and order. Still, as soon as leaders used their possibilities and started divided people into groups, poverty and inequality took place. The reasons and results of the Moro Massacre in 1906 can be used as one more example taken from American history to explain why it was impossible to avoid the outrage and sufferings of people. The Moro tribes could not resist the conditions under which they had to live.
They tried to contact the government and improve the situation. They were not heard. Many people were suffering and wanted to change something. The end of their attempt was terrible. Murders, fights, and sacrifices took place. Not only adults participated in the event. The lives of many children and young people were over.
On the one hand, it is possible to blame the government that took responsibility for so many lives and failed to succeed. On the other hand, it is also possible to think that those people who offered to rebel should be responsible for the fact that many children died. American history is controversial, and it is not always possible to identify one side and stick to it all the time. People could judge each other’s actions. Still, they could never realize what they could do if they had to survive the same events.
Finally, people realized what they could get if they started fighting against their leaders and the government and estimated their chances for a victory. People learned the main lesson in their lives: they could promote changes if they took action. The next stage in American history was the possibility to protect personal rights, choices, and freedoms.
Slavery is probably the brightest example to support Zinn’s argument concerning the impossibility to analyze history from one point of view and find a reason for judging or accusing the people of the past and their actions. The letters of different slaves with the descriptions of their intentions, dreams, and plans, helped to realize that their solutions had powerful grounds. Rebellions were not sudden.
The majority of them were planned in advance with the only desire – to become free. The letters between the secret keepers of Richmond and Norfolk demonstrated the level of the readiness of slaves to fight for their freedoms and their desire to protect people of the same social groups. The example of how slavery became the reason of the war shows one of the most terrible and cruelest ways to solve conflicts and achieve compromises.
Conflicts, wars, discussions, and disagreements are bright spots in American history. They tell a lot about the reasons why a solution has been made, or the thought has been offered. Still, all these facts, stories, and letters do not provide people with the necessity to take a side or accuse someone. These sources of information should be used to teach modern people, describe events, and introduce American history as it is with all its positive and negative aspects.
As soon as people realize that they can fight for something and prove their rights, they achieve a kind of personal success. At the same time, when this kind of achievement is observed, it is possible to expect some changes that can be dramatic. A human life, as well as American history, consists of rises and falls, achievements and mistakes, happiness, and sorrow.
It is useless to neglect one thing and give birth to a lie because the truth is something that cannot be avoided. The truth is the only thing that will find each person in its time. That is why all those omissions and commissions can make each person suffering because of the inability to come with the truth.
Still, it is also possible that such historical blindness cannot influence any life. Anyways, all politicians (past and present) can benefit from the historical lies because they can be changed and approved according to a particular situation.
In general, all these examples may help people realize one simple thing – the Americans, as well as all people on the planet, are too weak at listening. People could talk, share opinions, demonstrate personal preferences, etc. Still, they are not able to listen and comprehend the main messages sent to each other. American history is not perfect. It is full of misunderstandings, mistakes, and even cruelty. Still, it is the way it is with its positive and negative aspects.
If people start focusing on the disadvantages like wars, slavery, rebellions, or trials only, they fail to enjoy the achievements people have made during the last centuries. American history may be full of lies, omissions, and commissions that could not be supported by all people. Still, there are such things as discoveries, abilities to treat terrible diseases, develop international relations, and even observe life far from the Earth.
Each history has its dark and light sides, and American history is not an exception. Of course, it is possible to study history from the speeches of politicians or media sources and get a clear picture of what, when, and why something happened.
Still, there is also an option to open eyes wider, pay attention to small facts and improvements that can be made by short letters and infamous reports, and understand that the already known fact may have different colors. And these colors should also be taken into consideration in order to learn from the past, enjoy the present, and have all the chances to improve the future.
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