I wrote this story to focus on a local band called the Prairie Creek Ramblers. I say that the gig is at a local coffee shop, but purposely don’t say the name so that you, the reader, doesn’t focus on the fact that it’s in a coffee shop. Instead you should focus on the averageness and closeness of the venue and how this enhances the music experience. It hopefully encourages you and others to slow down and go listen to a local band. It shows you the positive aspects of supporting local bands.
A Time to Rest
The brisk wind whistles through my thin, black jacket as I rush into MoJava, a local coffee house. The warm air washes over me as the small bell rings above the door, announcing my entrance. I’m not there for the warmth though, or even the coffee. It’s currently a Friday night, and on most Fridays, this small, corner cafe invites a band to come and play for the customers.
Tonight a local bluegrass band called the Prairie Creek Ramblers is playing in the back corner. With the twang of a banjo, the deep strum of the upright bass, and the soothing melody of guitar, they fill the coffee shop with a smooth and relaxing tune. I’ve walked in on a slow song, one where the instruments play softly and the lyrics are sad and sweet. It sets the tone of the shop as I walk up to the counter to give my order. In line I cast my gaze to the other customers in the shop. Some faces I recognize from previous visits, others bear the face of a stranger, but both kinds of faces hold a serene look, reflecting the mood of the song. Conversations are held in low whispers and chairs pulled and pushed silently. The song then came to a beautiful resolution as I ordered my drink and the customers end the song with spattering applause.
After ordering, I walk to a seat near some familiar faces. One is Anita, the mother of the lead singer, a good friend of mine. She greets me loudly as I approach, and the banjo strums the beginning of the next song, this time a more upbeat and rolling tune. I return her greeting as I drape my jacket over the wobbly chair. For a short while I relax and take in the atmosphere. The ceiling is low and the floor creaky, giving me the feeling of a log cabin more than a coffee house, creating a homey feel. I can understand a person coming here to relax after a long week at college to feel as if they really had been transported back to their childhood home. But the walls are also filled with art created by local artists advertising their prices, giving the feel of an art gallery. My eye settles on a piece with a wolf howling in front of the Aurora Borealis. I wonder if I should buy it, see the price, then wonder how anyone could ever buy art at such a steep price. I’ve never been one to truly appreciate art though. I mostly enjoy the contemplative feel that develops when I look at it. These covered walls encourage a thoughtful outlook, again bringing to mind the peaceful atmosphere that this place holds.
I return to the counter to retrieve my drink carefully walking back to my seat to relax and enjoy the music. I tap my foot and absent mindedly stare into my drink while I allow my mind to wander and forget for a while.
Often in this busy world I can’t find time to slow down and relax like this. I’ve lived most of my life constantly going from one activity to the next while also trying to balance school and family. Music provides a means of escape from this, if just for a mere moment. But a blaring iPod, booming radio, or even a live concert in a large arena can’t quite match the serenity I find when I immerse myself in the live music in such a casual place, like a coffee shop. I can actually feel the hum of the instruments without having to worry about the hectic and stressful crowds of a large concert. I can sit down with a cup of coffee and enjoy pleasant conversations with those around me.
I stay seated for another few songs before the band announces that they will be taking a short break before performing another set of songs. This is another thing that I love about a local bands because I’m able to directly talk and hang out with the performers instead of being separated by a screen or security detail.
We converse and laugh for a while before they make their way back to their corner and settle in to continue playing as I settle back into my chair. I clear my mind again as the banjo starts the next flood of songs. I hum to myself some of the more familiar tunes and occasionally glance up to observe the mood around me.
Inevitably, the last song begins during which the singer invites the audience to sing along. I sing the final chorus with the band before the cafe breaks into applause. I remember the feeling of the music, but reality comes back to me as I review all the things I need to accomplish for the weekend. I attempt to catch myself, but it’s too late. The music is done and I must again return to my responsibilities, but at least for that little while I was able to clear my mind. While responsibilities are important fundamental, it’s also important to stop and relax for a while by enjoying simple pleasures like a local band.
Today, Americans are constantly saturated with commercials and slogans that tell the consumer what to buy, how to act, and how to look. They are also surrounded by the ideals that society has set for them. In the novel Brave New World, author Aldous Huxley uses his own characters and catchy slogans to show how influential advertising is in creating a uniform society with minimal creativity and an ingrained love of consumerism. This theme reflects the mindset American society today. The characters that are seen as being easily influenced by advertising, like Lenina and Henry, tend to not have much of an opinion and do not express unique creativity.
Brave New World introduces a number of characters that have grown up in a pre-packaged in a society that doesn’t allow for free thought and action. Each of these characters is literally made in a lab to be physically and mentally desirable in fulfilling certain duties. They are then conditioned with slogans that control their desires and ways of thinking. For example, Henry recites words to Lenina that “they had heard… repeated a hundred and fifty time every night for twelve years” to reinforce to themselves that “everyone is happy now”(Huxley 75). These people had been told so often that everyone was happy that it was second nature for them to believe it. This conditioning permeated every aspect of their lives to the point that they had a desirable response for nearly every possible situation. At a glance, this type of thinking might seem ridiculous and that it could only happen in a made up world, but, upon reflection, one can see that there are repeated standards that shape people in the U.S. too.
Integrated ideals for society are also found in America. While these ideals may not be repeated every night while people sleep, people still hear them constantly so that they find themselves believing that these ideals should outline the way that they think and act. Sir Ken Robinson created a TedTalk that addressed this issue of ideals, specifically when addressing what young people should want to do as an occupation when they are older. They are told that they shouldn’t focus on some things like dance and music because “they would never get a job doing that” (Robinson). Ideally children will grow up to become a lawyer, doctor, or at least an electrician if they can’t spend years in higher education. Children are restricted with what they should pursue based on what they have continually been told and what classes have been prioritized in school. While not everyone can be a dancer, not everyone should aspire for a traditional job, simply because they are conditioned into thinking that is what they should do.
Americans are also conditioned to rely on medications to the point where they may over-medicate. In his TedTalk, Sir Ken Robinson continues on his talk about education and job aspirations when he tells the story of Gillian Lynne, a now famous chorographer. As a child she was restless so her mom took her to a doctor and the doctor told the mother that she was a dancer and that she should be sent to dance school. Then he made a comical, but very true point, about how this ADHD behavior that “nowadays someone might have just given her some medication and told her to calm down” (Robinson). This is the sad truth of the American mindset and is what leads to the desire to escape from life. Medications can suppress the creative thoughts and actions of a person so that the person can more properly fit into society. While medication does have its advantages, it can be over done to the point where people look to this medication so they don’t have to face reality. This also applies to the addiction of other drugs so that people can escape from society. There is a want to suppress and escape.
Huxley addresses the problem of over-medication and drug abuse by showing how it affects the way that his characters see the world. People in his world take soma when they want to escape. Lenina does this on the reservation because she “felt entitled, after this day of queerness and horror, to a complete and absolute holiday” (Huxley 142). When Lenina wanted to forget about a day that wasn’t really terrible, it simply brought her out of her comfort zone. In order to suppress emotions instead of living in the moment she desired to escape. It is something that Americans do now and is slowly climbing to the extreme level that Huxley depicted.
Along with the issue of medication, Huxley also addresses the issue of advertising and consumerism. Slogans were a major influence on the people in Brave New World and they would often recite them when justifying their actions. For example, while conversing with another girl about clothing, Lenina recited the slogan, “Ending is better than mending” (Huxley 50). This slogan is then reinforced when the girl mentioned how she loved Lenina’s bandolier and how her own 3-month-old bandolier was “an absolute disgrace” (Huxley 51). These girls, along with everyone else, are conditioned to want to be consumers. Not only this though, but the characters are told what they should want to buy based on their class. They have learned to buy new products whenever their old ones become outdated or damaged.
America has also become a society that is constantly surrounded by advertising and slogans that convince people to regularly buy new products. America’s economy has become based on planned obsolescence, which is when new products constantly become outdated and replaced by newer models. Commercials and advertisements promote this kind of economy and are subtly found almost everywhere from the highway to cellphones. For example, new cellphone models are released while old models wear out quickly and stop receiving support from the company. People have stopped becoming angry with this though and are happy to keep buying the newest versions. It causes people to buy new products they don’t for the sake of having something new. People even look down on others when they aren’t up to date, just like Lenina with her friend.
Thus, by using characters and catchy slogans, in his novel Brave New World, Huxley shows how influential advertising is in creating a uniform society with minimal creativity and an ingrained love of consumerism that is also seen in American society. Characters that are easily influenced by these catchy slogans and other advertising don’t have their own opinion. Their creativity is stifled and most decisions they make are unknowingly made by someone else.
2ActPlay….. ………. By Hallie Hohbein …
Harvey Jones……………………A student who is very excited to become a dystopian hero until he discovers it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
Peter Melhark…………………………….A rebel who loves bread and want to lead.
Katherine Everknead…………..A strong headed rebel who also wants to lead.
Gail Thorn………………………A rebel who is always ready to encourage others.
Toby East……………………..A rebel who is afraid of nothing except his 4 fears.
Trisha Prime……………………………………….A rebel with a personality complex. Rose…………………………………………………………..A rebel disposable character
Fin…………………………………………………………..A rebel disposable character Wilbur…………………………………………………………..A rebel disposable character Annie…………………………………………………………..A rebel disposable character
Mr. Varns………………………..A male teacher in the Dippy facility who has his own ideas on how to run the facility.
Oxy Clean…………………………A female cleaner for the facility who loves her job and has a secret.
Thomas…………..A student in Harvey’s class who listens to the government.
Theresa………….A student in Harvey’s class who listens to the government.
Ava……………………………………………………………A student disposable character. Sonya………………………………………………………..A student disposable character. Brenda………………………………………………………A student disposable character. Chuck………………………………………………………..A student disposable character. Winston…………………………………………………….A student disposable character. Newt………………………………………………………….A student disposable character.
President Snoin…………President of the Dippy facility and a total neat freak. Jeanine……………………..A strong headed government official. Vice president
to President Snoin
Veronica……………A government official who is quiet and intelligent looking.
Vladimir…………………..A government official with lots of ideas that no one will listen to.
Roxie……………………………………….A government official who love brute force.
Guard 1………………………………………A well trained guard at the Dippy Facility Guard 2………………………………………A well trained guard at the Dippy Facility Guard 3………………………………………A well trained guard at the Dippy Facility Guard 4………………………………………A well trained guard at the Dippy Facility
Scene: There is a school classroom. The only colors that are used are black, gray, and white. There are about 12 or so students, all wearing gray that are all looking straight ahead at a teacher standing at the front of the room who is lecturing. Everyone has both hands folded on their desks and are very still. There is a drawing on the board of a person giving a sheet of paper to another person who wasn’t really paying attention. Harvey is sitting in the back of the room tapping his finger on the side of his leg. He is sitting slightly away from everyone else.
Opening: As the curtain opens the teacher is lecturing loudly to a room full of students. He is talking about the laws of the land that they are forced to follow. Harvey is tapping the side of his leg rhythmically but silently. The focus is on Harvey with a spotlight but all the other lights are still up. All the other students are staring blankly ahead.
…Because of this, we have been made into the greatest unity of people ever in history. The times before this were terrible and people were allowed to do whatever they wanted, like buy eggs without the permission from the
[students gasp and recoil a little bit. A few look away in disbelief] [HARVEY rolls his eyes a little bit]
[raises hand and is called on]
You mean people didn’t have their own food shopping advisor?
Not only that, but they went to shop for their own clothes and had… choice.
[Students gasp a little louder and mutter a little bit. They look away from the teacher. HARVEY looks with some excitement towards the front of the room.]
[students quickly become silent and resume the position of hands on desk and face straight forward. Harvey resumes a bored face.]
“I can’t remember. I just can’t remember”
Those are the words that I heard over and over from a woman at the Gateway Vista, a nursing home near my school. My entire soccer team was there for a volunteer event. We were given an option to either sing with some of the residents in a sing-a-long, or were given the chance to visit the rooms of some of the residents so that we could chat with them.
I chose to talk with people because I have always loved listening to people’s personal stories so that I can look through their eyes into the lives they used to live. So one of the nurses led us down the hall and would knock on each door, asking if the resident wanted someone to talk to for a little while. The whitewashed walls and paintings of flowers were dull, but many of the doors were open, giving me a peek into the lives of these many residents.
It reminded me of when I was younger and would often take visits to go see my great-grandma Hati. As a child, the silence of the nursing home reminded me of a library, so I made sure that I would never talk when going down the hallway. I loved reading and I loved libraries, so the thought helped me to enjoy the visit a little more. Little did I realize that I almost was walking through a library with all the many stories that were contained within those walls. But at the time, it was just a thought that would help get me through the long visit where I would always have to do so much standing. At least there was always little mint candies for me to snack on after I had said my hellos and answered the obligatory questions. “How’s school going? Are you enjoying soccer?” Then my parents would take over the conversation before we exchanged some hugs and left again through the whitewashed halls with paintings of flowers. It wouldn’t be long until I no longer needed to walk those halls…
“She would like to talk”
I snapped back to reality as the nurse looks at me expectantly.
“You can go in”
I slid inside the door to see an old woman smiling at me. I said hello and she greeted me back and offered me a seat. There weren’t any chairs besides the one she was sitting in, but she offered me her wheelchair. I sat down and smiled at her as she continued to smile my way.
I was nervous and wasn’t really sure what to say. I hadn’t thought that far ahead, so with a searching mind I asked in a stuttering voice, “What’s your name?” She responded then I responded with my own name. I feel particularly proud of my name because I am named after my great-grandma Hallie. I never met her, but I always felt as if I held some sort of connection with her because we share the same name.
I then continued to ask the woman other questions about how her week is going, what she ate today. I then remembered having a conversation with my own grandma who said that asking about an elderly person’s childhood is a great way to make them talk because they often remember their childhood very well.
“What were you like as a little girl?”
“Uh… well I used to love to play.”
“What did you like to play?” I prodded.
“Why, I don’t really remember”
The response surprised me a bit, and for a while I wasn’t sure what to say.
“Where did you grow up?” I stammered out.
“Nebraska. Somewhere in Nebraska… oh I just can’t remember.”
I went on like this for a while, asking questions and receiving vague responses followed by a, “I can’t remember”. It was still interesting to listen what she could tell me, but there was much of the story left out. She couldn’t even remember where all of her children lived. I worked to find the perfect question that would suddenly unlock some sort of flood of memories, but it never came. After asking about a husband though, she did inform me that he had left after they had their third child. She worked as a single mother and as a teacher. I was impressed and told her that she must be a very strong woman. “Yes, yes I would say that I am,” she beamed.
Despite her inability to remember much of her past, she was still very witty and full of life, and I enjoyed talking with her. By the end of our conversation, I was sad to leave. I gave her a hug and we exchanged our goodbyes before I walked out the door.
I remembered my great-grandma Eunice as I strolled down the hallway to the exit. The woman I just spoke to reminded me so much of her. They had the same sort of fiery spirit that suggests that they have never been one to be pushed around by another. I recall visiting my grandma Eunice in the hospital not long ago after she had a surgery. It was a fairly minor surgery, but her frail frame required plenty of rest to recover. Despite her body’s complaining though, she was not about to let herself be bound to a hospital bed for a few days. She insisted on leaving the hospital and refused to take her medicine until she was allowed to go home. This rebellion was dangerous for her health, but I still couldn’t help but chuckle when I was told about her refusal. It was so like her to do that.
My grandma is still full of life, but just like the woman at the nursing home, her memory is going. That doesn’t mean, however, that her life has become suddenly terrible. I think about my own future often. I wonder how I will act, what I will enjoy doing, what memories I will hold, what memories I will have lost. This unknown future sounds as if it should be terrifying, but the more I look upon the lives of the elderly, the less I fear it. I am reminded of their library of memories and their strong personalities. I am reminded of their humanity, as well as my own, and it makes me excitedly anticipate my life ahead.
We walk out the front door of the nursing home and I quickly glance back. I had almost forgotten this was a volunteer event. I grin to myself as I walk back to my car, cherishing all the memories that today had presented me with, both new and old.
But what was the name of the woman who stirred up so much memory? I asked for it at the beginning of our conversation…
I can’t remember. I just can’t remember.
Once students have reaped the benefits of utilizing oral histories, students will then have a grown appreciation for history. Students can then apply this appreciation to receive the benefits that learning history in the classroom provides. The Ohio Department of Education discusses the importance of history and social studies education, and informs people that this education “provides students the ability to recognize themselves as part of history, recognize and apply spatial relationships as analytical tools… and develop an understanding of continuity, change, and chronology” (Ohio Board of Education). These tools enable students to find their personal place in history, as well as provide them with an understanding of how they will impact the future.
That is, education is vital in fostering students’ understandings of how them and their families fit into the past. Especially during their developing years, people often have a hard time finding their importance in the world and wonder why they are here. This connection can be particularly difficult if he does not fully grasp the fact that every person “is made by society and by its historical push and shove” (Mills, 6). Tim Urban reminds people that a person’s family tree is vast, and just 9 generations back includes about 4,096 people in that generation and over 8,000 people in the entire family tree (Urban). That’s only about 300 years ago, and if a single one of those people were missing, that person would not exist today. Without an understanding of the influence of history on their own life, a person may find it difficult to find their significance and how amazing it is that they are alive. This history becomes easier to relate to when a person looks at their individual family history, but learning about history helps a person put into perspective how they have been shaped by it in general. History allows the student to discover more about himself and his society.
Furthermore, the student will not only see their place in history, but teaching history to students aides their view of how they impact the future. C. Wright Mills states that a person “lives out a biography” and that by “living he contributes, however minutely, to the shaping of this society and the course of it’s history” (Mills, 6). Just like how the past contributes to a person’s present, a person’s present contributes to a future person’s past. With people being so interconnected, it’s impossible for any human not to make some sort of impact in the world, no matter how minute. If a person is not aware of how the past has affected them, it will be increasingly difficult for them to understand how they will affect the future.
So far, it has been made quite clear why it is important for people to study history, especially oral histories, but some people may wonder why interviewing the elderly has been emphasized. While it is still true that everyone has a story to contribute, collecting the stories of the elderly is a more urgent situation. An example of why interviewing the elderly is particularly urgent is shown in the story of Marie Wilcox, a Wukchumni Native American. Marie grew up speaking the Wukchumni language with her grandmother family, but, until recently, she never taught the language to anyone else. When she learned that she was the last person on earth who spoke the Wukchumni language fluently though, her urgency to teach became much greater. She began to write a dictionary, as well as create an oral version of her dictionary. She also began teaching her children and grandchildren how to speak Wukchumni so that her native language would not die off. Marie was born in 1933, so she is worried that if she does not work to teach other, her native language, as well as all the stories passed down in her language, will die off with her (Vaughan-lee). If Marie desires to pass along her language though, it will not be enough for her to make an effort, but other people will have to listen and learn from her. It is not a goal that she can finish on her own.
Marie’s story is similar to the stories of many other elderly people in America and how, without someone to listen, their stories may forever exist unheard. While not everyone carries a dying language with them, every person does carry an important story with them, even if they don’t believe they do. Helen Hohbein, who recorded the stories of many elderly people while she worked in a nursing home, stated that “almost always [the elderly] would say their life was boring. But asking questions, bringing out good memories, and being encouraging would bring out the good things… I never found anyone to have led a boring life” (Hohbein). Without the encouragement to share their stories, these elderly people may not have ever shared what they had to offer to the world. Their stories and experiences would have passed on with them. In a society that is often ignorant of their family pasts, this is an especially relevant possibility.
Understanding why is it important to learn history is one of the tools that this paper should have provided and will aid in creating the tapestry of history. The pieces, however, still must come from personal stories like Marie Wilcox’s. These stories are hard to retrieve though with America losing the oral tradition and their interest in history. People perceive history as growing increasingly boring as the years pass, but it’s not history’s fault. It is directly correlated with America losing the oral tradition and personal histories. By encouraging the practice of oral history, Americans may once again connect and relate to history and learn from it, as they should. The tapestry of history will become more complete.
Hohbein, Helen C. “Questions for Senior Action Project.” Message to the author. 4 Mar. 2016. E-mail.
Mills, C. Wright. The Sociological Imagination. New York: Oxford UP, 1959. Print.
“The Evidence Base for Social Studies: Social Studies in Elementary Education.” The Evidence Base for Social Studies: Social Studies in Elementary Education. Ohio Department of Education. Web. 8 Mar. 2016.
Urban, Tim. “Your Family: Past, Present, and Future – Wait But Why.” Wait But Why. 2014. Web. 8 Mar. 2016.
Vaughan-lee, Emmanuel. “‘Who Speaks Wukchumni?’.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 2014. Web. 8 Mar. 2016.
The best way for people to learn history and appreciate its importance is to start learning it at an early age in school. It’s common to hear people complaining about their history classes. They say that history is not important to learn “because it’s already happened”, a mindset that is negatively affecting my community. The improper teaching of history has brought about this mindset. Many history classrooms only teach facts and “the teaching of only facts reduces [the student’s] intellectual abilities and denies students the expressive potential inherent in their humanity” (Ohio Department of Education). While there have been schools and teachers that are working to change this mindset, the idea that history isn’t important to learn in schools has already been engrained in the mind of the student and reinforced by the population of the internet through memes. Students have already stopped caring, so one of the greatest challenges is to convince them to start caring again.
One of the best ways to convince students to care about history again, and begin to enforce the importance of history, is to encourage the tradition of oral history. StoryCorps is an organization that is dedicated to recording the stories of people and they emphasize its importance by reminding people what is so important about history. On their about page, StoryCorps says they collect oral histories “to remind one another of our shared humanity, to strengthen and build the connections between people, to teach the value of listening, and to weave into the fabric of our culture the understanding that everyone’s story matters” (StoryCorps). It sums up why it is important for people to listen to each other’s stories. Without these stories people may begin to lose their empathy towards others and lose their place in the world. Oral histories work to enhance learning, nurture empathy and help students to become conscientious students of the world.
There are multiple ways that oral history enhances learning, one of which is connecting a name and face to history to make people more interested in it. One would argue that the “stories of past lives, communities, and events might seem intrinsically interesting” but when people only focus on groups while teaching social history it flattens the narrative and “students find the subject dry, boring, and surprisingly unconnected to their lives” (Crocco). When students are taught through oral histories though, the individual stories do not lose anything on their way to the student and retain their intrinsically interesting appeal. This encourages students to learn history by peaking their interest and enforcing the connection of history to the student.
History also enhances learning by forcing the student to think critically. This is especially true when the students collect the oral histories for themselves. In discovering multiple oral histories, students develop the skills to “frame questions about why accounts differ, fosters their abilities as critical thinkers” (Miller). Every person has a different story, and every person has an account of what they experienced during various events throughout history. When provided with these multiple stories, students are forced to think about the past complexly. It stops becoming a feeding of facts and becomes an interactive activity that stimulates the brain and a person’s passion for history.
Oral histories work to enhance learning, but also can be used to create empathy in a student. When listening to oral histories, students are encouraged “to see the world through the eyes of another,” therefore creating an emotional link between the student and interviewee (Crocco). This emotional link was displayed in a study lead by Lee Penyak and Pamela Duray in Mexico City. The students in this study were asked to interview people in their community. By the end of the interviews, all the students reported having empathy for the people they interviewed and became increasingly active in the issue that they discovered the issue of with these interviews (Penyak). With this emotional link, the student will view past events with a fresh perspective that allows them to better understand the events and create a personal connection to them. This empathy can carry over into the emotions a student feels when learning the histories of other people. A student must learn empathy, but once learned personally through oral history, the empathy may grow and flourish rapidly.
Crocco, Margaret Smith. “Putting The Actors Back On Stage: Oral History In The..” Social Studies 89.1 (1998): 19. MasterFILE Complete. Web. 8 Mar. 2016.
Miller, Joan. “Migrant Memories: Creating An Oral History.” OAH Magazine Of History 23.4 (2009): 43. MasterFILE Complete. Web. 8 Mar. 2016.
Penyak, Lee M., and Pamela B. Duray. “Oral History And Problematic Questions Promote Issues-Centered Education.” Social Studies 90.2 (1999): 68. MasterFILE Complete. Web. 8 Mar. 2016.
“StoryCorps.” StoryCorps. StoryCorps. Web. 8 Mar. 2016.
“The Evidence Base for Social Studies: Social Studies in Elementary Education.” The Evidence Base for Social Studies: Social Studies in Elementary Education. Ohio Department of Education. Web. 8 Mar. 2016.
This section of the paper outlines what the issue is and why it’s important to learn about personal histories.
I grew up listening to my grandmother tell stories. They were mostly stories from books, but from time to time she would tell a short story of my father growing up, or one from her own childhood. These stories pulled from her memory sparked my imagination and brought to life my grandma’s past. It was always so strange to think of my grandmother as young girl in a world so different from my own. Looking back, I realize how important her individual history is in shaping my life. Individual histories are important in helping people better understand the past and making the storytellers understand that their personal story is important. Creating this understanding is like forming a tapestry. One must first acquire the pieces and tools before creating a tapestry. The more detailed the pieces, the more detailed and beautiful the tapestry. Without these pieces, it is difficult to bring the past to life, which is exactly the problem occurring in America today. A decreasing interest in history is causing people to lose their sense of importance of the past as well as the benefits that come with knowing about the past.
This lost feeling about the importance of the past is causing people to become disconnected with history and their own pasts. Ancestry.com has seen this trend in America, with only “half of Americans [knowing] the name of only one or none of their great-grandparents” and with only “fifty percent of American families [having] ever researched their roots” (PRNewswire). These statistics apply to the community of Lincoln. Many people are not taking the time to discover their own family histories, and the story that made them who they are today.
This ignorance of the past causes people to forget how history impacts people today, which in turn causes people to lose the benefits this knowledge of the past provides. In a world that seems to be constantly advancing and looking to the future, it’s easy for people to believe that history is simply something that happened but now has no purpose in modern society. The president and CEO of The Generations Network, Tim Sullivan, reminds us that “our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents each possess a lifetime of incredible, unique experiences that have shaped their lives and impacted our own. It’s important we take time to better get to know our family members and to share our stories” (PRNewswire). The history that people choose to teach to “children is playing a role in shaping their values and beliefs” (Crabtree). Whether their past sounds good or bad, understanding how ancestors impact people today leads to a reassessment of how a person is currently living their life.
There is also a more practical reason for people to know where they came from. Many adopted children seek to find out who their birth parents are, but it’s not always for the heartwarming reasons movies might suggest. Often times, they do this so they can find out their medical histories and discover why they might act the way that they do (Betchen). The past not only shows people where they found their values and predispositions, but their personal pasts can show them why some of them sneeze because of pollen or why some of them end up with Alzheimer’s. The physical makeup of one’s ancestor’s bodies is what makes up their own body.
Going beyond just personal histories, it is important to look at the significance of history objectively. History in general is extremely important to know and understand the past because “our view of history shapes the way we view the present, and therefore it dictates what answers we offer for existing problems” (Crabtree). History has shaped the present that has made humans inescapably intertwined with the past. It has dictated current beliefs and shaped the issues that we face in this world today. If people do not acknowledge history and what it has already taught them “we will find ourselves fabricating a past that reinforces our understanding of current problems” (Crabtree). As people become increasingly disconnected with the past, issues may become more difficult to solve because no one has a proper understanding of its past and will therefore not truly understand how to resolve it. People will only ever look for solutions that they desire to solve the issue, not solutions that will actually solve the issue.
Betchen, Stephen J. “Why Adoptees Need To Find Their Biological Parents.” Psychology Today. Psychology Today, 3 Apr. 2011. Web. 8 Mar. 2016.
Crabtree, David. “The Importance of History.” Gutenberg College Great Books. Gutenberg College. Web. 8 Mar. 2016.
PRNewswire. “Ancestry | Press Releases.” Ancestry | Press Releases. Ancestry.com, 6 Dec. 2007. Web. 8 Mar. 2016.
This week I’ll be starting a series of posts on the importance of history for people and in schools.
In school we had to choose an issue in our community and try and do something to help ‘fix’ it. Another part of the project though was to write a research paper on the issue. My first idea was to help in nursing homes and with the elderly in general, but then I realized a bigger issue. While it’s important to give these people proper care for their sakes, it’s also important to record their stories for both their sake and the sake of everyone else. I realized the importance of having multiple stories on a subject, and the best way to get multiple stories is to ask multiple people. It’s about more than just getting the story though, but sharing the story so that the story teller realizes their story matters and the people that hear the story also recognize it’s significance. I especially wanted to focus on more historical stories and stories of the elderly as their stories won’t be with us soon and all the knowledge they hold will be lost and simply added to a text book as “people in this era tended to do…”. All personal relation we have to stories will disappear and the will become dry and devoid of emotion. This paper addresses this issue and some suggestions on how to fix it.
Things you should know for a Lunar New Year party in America.
Dear Clueless American,
I assume since you are reading this letter that you are going to be attending a Lunar New Year celebration, and that you are currently clueless and have no idea what to expect. Don’t worry, I also was once in the same position except I attended clueless and had to learn as I went. You, on the other hand, should not need to worry. I have made all the mistakes and taken all the unsure steps so you don’t have to. I experienced a Vietnamese New Year party, so there might be a few things that are different, but these basic tips should help you make the most you possibly can of your experience.
First off, don’t show up late. This sounds obvious, but seriously don’t. It doesn’t matter what you were doing that day, if you show up late you will probably miss out on some very cool shows like the Lion Dance, something I had never seen before, and still have never seen. They tend to start the night off with a bang, so it’s best to not miss it. If you have to be late, just hope that some people there are willing to record it for you while drive 5 miles over the speed limit to make up for your tardiness. Even if you are late, you shouldn’t worry too much because there is likely still a long night ahead. Just fix your outfit and walk in confidently. Speaking of your outfit…
Dress up nice. I don’t mean a v-neck with jeans, I mean you should probably wear a dress or skirt as a female and a button up with slacks for guys. It’s generally a much nicer event than we make our New Year parties. The one I attended was Vietnamese, so many of the people in attendance were wearing traditional clothing. I was not warned of this, so I was very underdressed in my jeans and t-shirt. I don’t think anyone judged me, but I think I would have been able to relax a little more if I had dressed classier.
Expect to clap and cheer a lot. With large Lunar New Year parties there will be a number of performances and there may even be a few by the people you know. They might not be top quality, super stellar performances, but they will very enjoyable. After each one you are going to want to cheer and clap loudly. Unless they ask you not to, give into temptation and cheer your heart out. This is even encouraged for shy people because it will raise your adrenaline and make the night more fun. But you will be filled up with more than just entertainment…
Prepare to eat a lot of food. There will be tables upon tables of cultural food with many ingredients that you may have never tried before. It is all delicious so gluttony will soon take over and you will become full quickly. To postpone the inevitable, just be as hungry as possible going in so you don’t pass up the chance to try all this amazing food. Which brings me to my next point…
Try all the food. Don’t be scared just because the cake looks green or the rice is bright orange. Those might actually end up being your favorite foods for the night (the green cake is sticky rice cake, and it is delicious). Some of the foods might even have names or ingredients that you can’t pronounce. How’s that for something new. They might have chicken strips and fries as part of the food option, but you are there to have new experiences, which includes food! Most importantly, try the spring rolls and the brown sauce that should be next to them. It’s called peanut sauce and it’s the most heavenly thing you will ever try (unless you are allergic to peanuts, in which case it might send you to heaven).
You will not know some of the songs. Unless you listen to their music all the time, chances are they will play a song where everyone seems to be singing along except you. Don’t worry when this happens. No one is judging you for now knowing the song, and it might be more offensive if you try to sing along badly. Unless someone tells you you should sing along, it is perfectly fine to simply smile while everyone else is singing. Don’t let this potentially uncomfortable moment ruin your night. It’s just another chance for you to have a cultural experience. And maybe you will find some really interesting, new music.
Hopefully all these tips are helpful to you as you approach your Lunar New Year celebration. It’s also possible that these won’t help at all. I am afterall still an American. In the end just remember to have fun and enjoy the night with your friends!
Fellow Clueless American