This page has some philosopy about history and politics. As background, I am president of the Heritage Network, an association of museums and historical societies in Northeast Washington, I have a degree in Philosophy and have run for political office.
“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” 2 Timothy 4:3
It was certainly not the intent of those who designed the Internet to strengthen the beliefs of extremist groups or to limit the available dialogue to things a person already believes, but that has been a result the affects of which include the current US political situation. Not only do people select “facts” they already believe to be true, advertising mechanisms within web pages show content that is most likely to be clicked on. And so ironically Paul’s prediction in the letter to Timothy, quoted above, has come to pass. Actually it is a natural tendency and has no time limits.
From the kiva to the church to the courtroom, people have found stories, particularly stories about themselves and other people to be a memorable and effective way to communicate. In gathering, reading and organizing stories for historical purposes, I have found that there are small stories and big stories. Typically history books (and their digital descendants) concentrate on the big stories. Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor is a big story and part of the even bigger one of World War II.
When Viola Schumaker noted in her diary that she churned butter to make a living on a certain day, it became a small story. When she wrote that she listened to Franklin Roosevelt’s fireside chat about the attack on Pearl Harbor, it was a small story that became more memorable because it is part of a larger story. We are at a turning point in United States History that is a big story. I want to encourage people to follow, record and share the small stories that make up this big one.
Some people have become energized to write swastikas on subway trains. Others have joined together to wipe off that graffiti. Millions of women have become energized to march in the streets. Actions like that gained them the right to vote and prohibited alcohol. They made history.
But history does not live in a vacuum. Future generations will relate to our lives as remembered in the stories we pass on, particulary small stories that are parts of big ones.
Stories have power. In the online handbook for effecting political change, Indivisible, we are encouraged to bring stories of the effects of political decisions to meetings, to the media and to people we meet. Many of the most powerful stories today are video clips, not just because they have more pictures and sound, but because they can be verified and shared. With some digging, historians often find stories passed on as history are not true or not exactly true. “Alternative Facts” are a scurge of the current media. When I say that my wife, Cheryl was in the women’s march in Spokane on January 21st, 2017, the story has a person, a time and a place. Her story is folding in to the
larger story of who we are and how we will emerge from this presidency. I think it will be a good story, the story of our lives.
But I also believe that it is just beginning, not that it does not have long roots, but there is a lot of drama and conflict afoot. There will be great stories, art and songs. There will also be horrible things that some will want to hide. Please seek, save and share the stories.