Award-winning Journalist Penny Fletcher, Author, Editor & Blogger

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History Helps Us Understand Today's Headlines

Posted on November 13, 2018 at 9:55 AM

 

  A hundred people witness an accident and give a hundred different accounts. Ask any investigator, law enforcement officer, insurance adjuster, or judge. And that’s just for starters. Most of us encounter situations all the time where two or more people witness an event, and everybody views it differently.

    Just how much does viewpoint formed by tradition or culture influence the way we see the world, or any of the major events around us?

    Was Benedict Arnold a hero or a traitor? What about Chief Sitting Bull and General George A. Custer? Who’s the hero and who’s the “villain” there? Was Jefferson Davis a rebel rouser and Abraham Lincoln a saint or was it the other way around. Do we know? Do we really know?

    I’ll bet the average American would differ with the average Native American and Brit over that question, even today!

    Only by looking back at history can we truly understand current events. Yet sometimes even the history books conflict as knowledge of several viewpoints unfolds. Just fifty years ago, all pioneers taking over land in the American West were still portrayed as heroes for moving natives off their land, so it could be farmed. A hundred and fifty years ago plantation owners were regarded highly for owning large numbers of slaves.

    Thomas Jefferson, the main framer of the Declaration of Independence and the third President of the United States owned more than two hundred slaves. Yet his famous quote, “When the people fear their government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty,” proves that freedom and liberty are exactly what each person happens to think it is and not everyone will agree.

    So how do we sort through history and find answers to problems we face as a divided nation today? You can start by checking all sources of news. We can’t simply rule out a reporter or network as being “liberal” or “conservative” based on what they are reporting. I’ve received many awards for hard news and editorials. I know the difference and this Blog is, made up of facts. I have put forth my opinions in only things that would unite us a people, and not divide; like the “Blog Facts First, Fight Later.” Who in this nation isn’t tired of all the negative campaign ads? If anyone can cite that as biased, I think people on both sides of the aisle would fault them, not the ideas put forth in the Blog.

    The Blog about how we handled immigrants when they were pouring into Ellis Island is historical fact and is offered as a choice for how to handle immigrants humanely now. Sending carpenters and steelworkers to build a decent longer-term facility so the refugees approaching our southern border can be processed as humanely as possible while they are being vetted is something, I doubt either “side” to the question would say was biased. What is another choice? Violence? I don’t think the majority of the American public (Red or Blues) wants that.

    So, when I refer to things in history that we have learned from in the past, or should be learning from now, those ideas or suggestions don’t come from bias. They come from fact. People see bias because they come from a different place than someone else. Go back to the Sitting Bull and George Custer question. Knowing what we do today about the millions of Native Americans who were displaced and/or slaughtered to obtain this land, and how we fought our British government, should give us two good lessons in what happens when a nation is as divided as we are today. This Blog is about uniting people and treating each person as an individual.

    If you are a person of faith, check out the story of the Good Samaritan and compare it to what is going on here today. Remember, the person who was aided was of a group that was usually ignored (and greatly disliked) even by the Chief Priests in the land where he needed help. Yet the story of the actions of one man has stayed with us as having done the right thing for all these years.

    So, I ask you today, is there any way we can use this example when considering how to view things our neighbor feels differently about? The only way I can see is looking for one inch of common ground and then trying to find other ground to add to it until an agreement comes about and “that common ground” is large enough that we can stand together on it.


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