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 Post subject: [Informer Article] My Passion: History
PostPosted: December 18th, 2014, 2:34 pm 
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Whenever I tell people I'm a history major, they never respond "Oh wow, that's so cool." It's always something along the lines of "what do you want to do with that" or "are you gonna be a teacher?" The truth is when I opted to major in history, I did so because it was a passion of mine, not because it was something I wanted to get a job in. Even so, I do feel I should share my passion with you and in doing so, instill in you an interest in studying history for its incredible value.

We all hear sayings like those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it or you have to know where you've come from to know where you are going. Although these are cliché statements, they happen to carry a lot of truth. The first statement implies that the value to remembering history is avoiding doing the same thing again, particularly the negative things. The second statement implies the importance of evaluating what has happened in the past against the path to be taken in the future. Both sayings make it clear that the study of history is important, not only for preventing bad from happening again, but also for having a clear sense of direction moving forward.

This isn't to say that everyone should be majoring in history at college. In the grand scheme of things, this is most likely a waste of time and money for most people. In fact, history is not unique in its importance and value. There are many subjects people should take an interest in even if it is not something they study in school. This includes science, literature, foreign language, information technology, and athletics to name a few. But perhaps more than any other subject, history tends to be neglected as a hobby or pastime.

People tend to fall into the mindset that history is no longer relevant. After all, how is what happened in the past going to affect anything in the present for me? To this, I would say it matters in everything. For example, consider the fact that your parents are from the past. You were born and raised by people who are older than you and have a different life experience from your own. In fact, the way they raised you was impacted by the way they were raised, what they went through, what they knew. Your parents didn't have an innate sense of how to be a parent or how to be a person. These things were determined by personal experience, all of which they learned at a young age and carried with themselves later on in life. But your parents don't remain young and neither will you. That part of you will always be in the past even though it affects your present and future.

Think too about all the things that have happened to you that have led to who you are now. Whether getting in a car accident, being in a relationship, graduating from school, losing a family member or close friend, getting injured, or simply reading a book, there are many things that affect who you are. We take for granted all the things that have happened to us in the past, and yet, it is the past that has shaped us and defined who we are to ourselves and to others around us.

In truth, history is the collective unique experiences of many individuals. History likes to sum up things in generalizations. However, these generalizations come from commonalities in the experiences of other people. For instance, think about how multiple people remember the same event. Consider three people at a football game. One person might remember the energy and feel of the crowd. Another might remember a significant play that took place that defined that game. And yet another may remember the bonding time they had with a friend. All three of these individuals had a unique perspective and experience unlike the other, and yet, all three could piece together common memories of that game to give us a historical picture of what that game was like to be there.

Truth be told, I'm actually surprised more people aren't interested in history. People like to watch movies, read books, play videos games, do all kinds of things that take up their time and interest. History itself is full of just as many stories of people, places, events, and stories that could captivate even the most tech savvy teenager or past-their-prime elderly person. But unlike these other options, the best part about history is that it's something that actually happened. A person can't turn a blind eye to history saying "that's not possible" or "that's unbelievable." History is exactly what happened. Nothing more, nothing less. It's the most believable information we can read about, watch, or experience. Nothing else compares to it in this aspect alone.

Of course, I can only hope to inspire in whoever reads this the same passion I have in me to study history. Sure, it may not always impact your current standing in life. Sometimes, it may be boring to learn about something so amazing, so incredible like the Roman empire that lasted only a brief moment in time before it disappeared just as quickly. And heck, it may be not worthwhile to learn the origin behind a word like "debugging." But the fact remains, history will always have an impact on our lives, from the completely mundane to the most important moments of our lives. If you knew something impacted your life as much as breathing, don't you think it would be worthwhile to at least give it some thought and consideration? That's how important history seems to me.

This was originally posted as an Informer Real World article.

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 Post subject: Register and login to get these in-post ads to disappear
PostPosted: December 18th, 2014, 2:34 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: [Informer Article] My Passion: History
PostPosted: December 18th, 2014, 4:36 pm 
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This is a great article. I am too a history major, and I really would like to continue my education into a PhD and eventually be a professor/author. I harp on this to everyone I know. History is so important in legislative activity, society, culture, and politics.

To give an example of why history is still relevant, I personally am interested in illicit drug history, prohibition, and class targeting through drug law. Specific drug laws have been developed in the past to target certain groups of people who posed a threat to existing citizens of the United States. Here's some examples:
  • Opium bans began in 1875 in California, targeting Chinese immigrant workers who were taking jobs from other unemployed Americans. It also was racially motivated.
  • Alcohol prohibition began in the US in 1919, as alcohol was associated with many European minorities coming into the US, along with crime and prostitution
  • Marijuana prohibition began as a response to minorities from Mexico, Cuba, and other South American countries. Propaganda was used and false facts were established that people still believe to this day.
  • Crack usage in the 1980s skyrocketed in black communities because of how cheap it was, along with how easy it was to make. This caused a wave of mandatory sentencing laws which established mandatory minimum jail sentences for possession of different drugs, and created a system where many African-Americans cycle in and out of jail throughout their lifetime.
Some other effects of illicit drug prohibition and mandatory sentencing laws (that I don't have time to go into because I could write a textbook, and hopefully will write textbook someday :P):
  • Development of primarily African-American 'ghettos'
  • A prison system where PEOPLE MAKE MILLIONS FROM OTHERS GOING TO JAIL (This one is huge)
  • Militarization of the Police (and we wonder why officers have been shooting more people, current events people)
  • Drop in murder arrest rates because Police officers are too busy with simple possession busts
  • Asset Seizure (SO ILLEGAL AND AGAINST THE CONSTITUTION)
It sucks because history says that these laws were enacted as a way to protect us, but right now it is the answer to many of our problems. The history of cannabis shows that it was used as a political tool against minorities, and many people were misinformed of the actual effects of it. This history is exactly why today the legalization movement is gaining momentum, as actual fact is beginning to make its way into our legislative process. Looking back at the history of current social issues allows us to see why maybe the laws and "facts" about certain things should be double checked and looked over again. Just because something is illegal doesn't make it dangerous. If the law is almost one hundred years old, there's probably a historical reason for it existing in the first place that doesn't apply today.

And that's just one example of why history is relevant today.

If you want any info on any of this, or want to look into this more, I can provide some documentaries/ sources/ books for all of these facts and statements I made.

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 Post subject: Re: [Informer Article] My Passion: History
PostPosted: December 18th, 2014, 4:46 pm 
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I definitely think history is important and something that we often fail all too much to learn from! A clever quip I heard states that 'the lessons of history teach us that no one ever learned from the lessons of history.' I hope some day for us to prove it wrong. Great article!

Marco, could you elaborate more on what you meant by the 'false facts' on marijuana? Is what you are citing 'facts' that state it is "not so bad" or the other way around?

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 Post subject: Re: [Informer Article] My Passion: History
PostPosted: December 18th, 2014, 5:04 pm 
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Arceus wrote:
I definitely think history is important and something that we often fail all too much to learn from! A clever quip I heard states that 'the lessons of history teach us that no one ever learned from the lessons of history.' I hope some day for us to prove it wrong. Great article!

Marco, could you elaborate more on what you meant by the 'false facts' on marijuana? Is what you are citing 'facts' that state it is "not so bad" or the other way around?


If you've ever seen the film "Reefer Madness," that is essentially what was taken as fact in culture and society from the 1940s on. It linked use of marijuana with violence, driving while intoxicated, rape, mental instability, etc. While the film itself is actually horrible, the negative things that it linked marijuana to stuck for a long time, and we are only now beginning to realize that marijuana doesn't cause someone to become violent, rape, or to become mentally unstable. The gateway drug theory, that marijuana will lead you to harder drugs, also has been a huge part of education and reform across the US. If you went to public school you most definitely heard the term gateway drug. Pinning this on marijuana isn't a fair assessment, as marijuana is more accessible than almost every other drug out there (including alcohol, because it's regulated and you need ID to obtain it, the drug dealer isn't going to check your ID in high school), meaning if you are a hard drug user (heroin, cocaine, etc) you have more than likely used marijuana in your past. The idea that marijuana is more damaging than alcohol and tobacco is another 'fact' that many people believe/believed. Alcohol is one of the leading causes of death in the US, and Tobacco contains many chemicals and compounds that are extremely toxic to a persons health. I'm not saying marijuana is perfect, but it doesn't contain many of the damaging compounds that cigarettes contain, yet it still remains very illegal across the country.

There's plenty more, if you want some more insight check out http://www.drugpolicy.org/ which is a group dedicated to the use of science and research in drug policy. They have a lot of great facts and ways you can learn more about modern drug policy movements.

Ted Talk on the effects of the Drug War

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 Post subject: Re: [Informer Article] My Passion: History
PostPosted: December 19th, 2014, 12:12 pm 
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Do you have a particular period or theme in history you are drawn to Marco?

I did a joint History and English degree and have always liked the connections. And at times the way some literature indirectly comments on the value of history.

An interesting aspect of a lot of dystopian literature, for example 1984, Brave New World, or more recently The Giver tetralogy, to name just a few texts, is the enforcement of totalitarian rule through the control of history, or in the case of the Giver its eradication, and how its control is used to limit, even destroy the concept of individuality. This in itself demonstrates how important history is in relation to identity, whether that be national, individual or such like.

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 Post subject: Re: [Informer Article] My Passion: History
PostPosted: December 19th, 2014, 1:46 pm 
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blethorskite wrote:
Do you have a particular period or theme in history you are drawn to Marco?

I did a joint History and English degree and have always liked the connections. And at times the way some literature indirectly comments on the value of history.

An interesting aspect of a lot of dystopian literature, for example 1984, Brave New World, or more recently The Giver tetralogy, to name just a few texts, is the enforcement of totalitarian rule through the control of history, or in the case of the Giver its eradication, and how its control is used to limit, even destroy the concept of individuality. This in itself demonstrates how important history is in relation to identity, whether that be national, individual or such like.


I've been particularly interested in the illicit drug history in the United States in the 20th century, especially the era of Nixon/Reagan/Bush Sr.

I also love studying Wiemar Germany, the rise of Nazism, all the way through WWII (I'm also a German major).

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 Post subject: Register and login to get these in-post ads to disappear
PostPosted: December 19th, 2014, 1:46 pm 
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