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The Role Of Subjectivity in History

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Over the course of the continuous and evolutionary journey of life, history tends to change. There is no such term as objective history meaning that historians have reputations of interpreting past events differently. However, we have a natural habit of adjusting the truth to a point where the stories are just biased rumors; damaged and darkened. Similar to our discussion of “The True Story of the Three Pigs” many people have different interpretations of a story based on the facts; every story is multi-perspective which have different approaches and aspects.

History is a view of life through snapshots; what was captured earlier on might look different in a couple of years. A snapshot of a baby is going to look different than the snapshot of that person as a teenager. More specifically, slavery used to be a huge institution, however, the realization and discussion of people, as they actually used their brains, brought slavery to an end. Similar to the well-known saying, “Hindsight is 20/20” we reflect back on past events and learn from our mistakes. We’re looking at history through hindsight, as we contemplate back on certain events, like 9/11, that we could have prevented from happening and saved a myriad of people from experiencing death. We did have indications that there was going to be an attack on American soil, and if we had collaborated with each other, and shared different perspectives, we could have put the bigger picture together and prevented such a terrible event from happening.

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History is the subjective retelling of prior events that are colored by individual varying perspectives. As seen in many cases, the personalized thoughts of an individual are the building blocks that history develops from. History is open to different interpretations that are often debated. Although we all physically see the same thing that does not necessarily mean we are going to agree. For example, in the “911 Hero performed by Michael Israel in New York” video, everyone sees the same video but a different meaning. Israel illustrated a painting symbolically connected to 9/11 and portrayed in intricate detail a fireman holding a child. America is one of the only countries that have people volunteer to risk their lives every day. People who understand they might lose their lives rescuing someone they do not even know but continue to do it anyway: a hero.

One of the songs that play in the background of the video is “Hero” by Enrique Iglesias. He sings, “Am I in too deep? Have I lost my mind? I don’t care you’re here tonight,” signifying and emphasizing his commitment to his job and how he doesn’t care if he’s “in too deep” as long as that person is alive. Even though they might have different perspectives on Trump and what he’s doing for the country, they will still fight for America and willingly put their lives on the line to be the heroic people America desperately needs. Similarly, “Members of the military return home to reunite with their families” had an equivalent meaning. Although this particular video more focuses on the family side, both videos are connected. This montage of clips all demonstrates how many people sacrifice their lives daily knowing they may never see their family again. However, based on your perspective, many people might not agree with these heroic actions, or might not even consider them heroes. Ultimately, as we reflect back on any aspect of history, our inquiries drive the development of past activities.

Today, history is considered a report of the past, based on facts and evidence. Many historians are aware of the fact that there cannot be one single story to anything. History is seen as the composition of multiple viewpoints and angles.

The term, “History” is derived from the Greek word, Historia, which means the accounts of events that someone puts together by asking questions, stories. We tend to alter the past by reflecting on it differently. Christopher Hill, an English Marxist historian, writes, “History has to be rewritten in every generation because although the past does not change, the present does; each generation asks new questions of the past.” The perception and documentation of history changes in the past, as society matures. Similar to humans, society takes a while to grow up and mature to its fullest. More specifically, around the 40s women weren’t allowed to do anything except undertake the role of the housewife and fulfill the general house chores such as, cleaning, cooking, and obeying their husbands. However, as the result of discussing and sharing viewpoints, the documented history changed and women are allowed to be anything they desire. As Dr. Dwayne Dyer once said, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” A minor adjustment in one’s perspective will change the aspect their focusing on. Although some might believe that history is solely based on facts, evidence does not support it. Additionally, many people only rely on eyewitness accounts. They believe that the people who were there to physically witness an event are always right or accurate.

Although eyewitness reports are sometimes true, there are many factors that can play into biasing their perspective. Others might conclude that since history is simply made from facts, there is no room for discussion or debate. Research shows how because of different perspectives and how people reflect back on events, it creates room for discussion and change. Admittedly, there are many facts that we definitely know happened in history, however, these facts lead to the creation of a different viewpoint. For example, World War I happened is a fact; whether or not the “good” or “bad” people won is based on one’s perspective. In addition, some might try to defend the position that things written in the past cannot change, but evidence does not support that position. Some accounts and documents recorded by previous historians are not true today due to the change in perspectives over time. In short, multiple perspectives lead to the most brilliant ideas. No single person holds the entire truth, but a piece of it. Similar to a beach ball, each person has their own perspective with is represented by a stripe on the ball. The beach ball as a whole is made up of the individual stripes or perspectives. The best decisions and outcomes often come from the intertwining of perspectives, especially while subjectivity plays a crucial role.


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