Thinking in terms of histories rather than a history is extremely important whether it be for a class or just in an everyday conversation. We have heard many times “history is written by the victors,” (Winston Churchilll) which leads us to believe that there is, always another side to each story, and by only educating yourself on one side you come out ignorant and biased, unaware of important cultural events.
After coming out of middle school only having read textbooks from history class and skimming over very major topics of American and World history, I went into high school unprepared and biased about topics including Europeans coming to America, the holocaust and other wars. After being assigned the book A People’s History of the United States written by Howard Zinn, and a plethora of other readings and articles from journals and authors rather than a generic history book, that only printed one side of each story, my mind was broaden and I began to ask questions.
My freshman year of high school we revisited the holocaust and read The Diary of Anne Frank, Maus and Night. All of these books are written about the same topic, yet each of them reveals something very different about the holocaust and it’s victims. After completing the readings on the holocaust, as a class we visited the Houston Holocaust museum, where we viewed a documentary about the holocaust that interviewed survivors and ex-Nazis. The film was incredibly eye opening, in that we were, for once able to see the story from a German soldier’s point of view. The documentary showed us examples of Nazi propaganda and told the story from the point of view of both the German soldiers and the survivors. This was the first time that I had ever been given the opportunity to hear both sides and it became evident to me how important it is to hear histories VS history.
Later that year we read a book discussing some of the horrible things that Native Americans endured during the pilgrimage to the United States. During middle school and elementary school we are taught that people came to the New World to gain independence, conveniently through our textbooks we never learned that while gaining their independence pilgrims tortured, killed and took the freedom of Native Americans, which now perfectly describes issues that are still at stake today. We were only told one side of the story, and by having this happen we missed out on a large part of culture and understanding of our nations true history.
Each day history is being written, and decisions are being made that are going to affect our children and our grandchildren. Very relevant examples of these are presidential debates. One of the reasons these are so crucial is because candidates are given the opportunity to answer questions in their own opinion or the opinion of the party that they represent. When we are watching these televised events, viewers typically don’t mute the responses of the candidate from the opposing party; they listen to both sides. So this brings us to the conclusion- everyday history is happening and now, and thankfully we are given the ability because of media, to see both sides of it. So when studying history from the past isn’t it just as important to hear both sides of each battle, conflict, or treaty signed?