History builds the Modern Society
What?: The historical contexts are very important to understand how the society has been structured as it is now. Without knowing history, people will lack of the knowledge to understand the modern world. In the chapter “A people History of the US”, Zinn points out “If you don’t know important things about history, then it’s as if you were born yesterday. And if you were born yesterday, then you will believe anything that is told to you by somebody in authority and you have no way of checking up on it” (69). From Zinn’s point, without understanding the historical contexts, people cannot make their own judgements some unequal social policies or structures, and people can even don’t realize the social inequality exist in their society. In Zinn’s point of view, he also thinks education is a political act. In the chapter “How Free is Higher Education”, Zinn points out “Education has always inspired fear among those who want to keep the existing distributions of power and wealth as they are” (87). I think Zinn means that education can gives people the freedom to to thing freely and develop their own perspective on the understanding of the world. However, some people who hold the power and wealth are fear of higher education, because they fear more people will understand how the unequal social structure is built and change the existing social structure, which is beneficial for people with power and wealth. Accordingly, the higher education can empower people in their socio-economic status, and gives them more opportunities to let their voice be heard in the society. Zinn also doesn’t believe the history is objective. In the chapter “A people History of the US”, Zinn points out “It seemed very clear to me; it didn’t take much thought to realize that as soon as you do history you are confronted with the fact that you are selecting out of an infinite amount of data a certain amount of data, certain pieces of data, to include. And you make that selection according to you point of view, so that every historian and every work of history has a point of view” (71). Zinn thinks when historians are studying the history, they are selecting the information they want to know about, and those information help them develop their point of view of certain historical events. Historians always have their own perspectives on some historical events and the works they write have also very strong subjective point of views.
So Whats?: Zinn also thinks that the democracy comes alive through social movements. In the chapter “A people History of the US”, Zinn says “And only then, only when a great commotion took place in the country, and only when that commotion had reverberated around the world, only then did the Congress begin to act and the president begin to act” (83). In the American society, the unequal social structure won’t change except a lot of people have demonstrate their thoughts on those unfairness. I did some research on the Occupy Wall Street Movement. From the Occupy Wall Street official website, “Occupy Wall Street is a people-powered movement that began on September 17, 2011 in Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District, and has spread to over 100 cities in the United States and actions in over 1,500 cities globally” (par. 1). From this information, we know that this social movement happen around the whole country, and even spread globally. Because of the wide-spread of the Occupy Wall Street, government started paying more attention on the unequal issues that was protested during this movement. Because millions of people demand changes in the social structure, the U.S. Government has to start making changes that people demanded. The Occupy Wall Street movement attracts people’s attention on how our social structure gives the 99% of the wealth to only 1% of the population.
Now What?: I have observed an interesting thin gin the Next Generation Scholar. One day, I was waiting for some students came to ask for help, because there wasn’t many students there at that day. I found an interesting book on the table, and it is about many students from the NGS and their story about how they got into college. Some of the students come from the low-income family and I think it is very hard for them to go to the top universities in the America. However, I found many students actually got into a lot of famous universities and some of them even got full scholarship. I was very surprised by their successful, but I also think all the struggles those students had to go through are not shown in the book. And I cannot image how much more efforts they have to make to achieve the same goal as other students have more financial support from their families. I think a lot of the struggles are tied to the historical context in students’ lives. Because most of the students in the NGS are from canal, and I think they probably don’t have the same education opportunities as other students. And I think NGS is the organization that help the students to get more higher education opportunities.