A Word.

I'm forcing myself to write this.  It is only by sitting down, setting the computer in front of me, and typing that anything is going to appear on the screen and have a chance of appearing on multiple screens, in multiple places, becoming a moment in multiple lives.

A word...strung out one after another...creating and articulating thoughts, expressions, and ideas.  Words...a plurality of word that can reach across and connect two people in conversation.  Those two can connect to two more, and on and on.

Where am I going with this...here's where I am going.  I want to create some type of community, a historical community in many respects that would not only discuss history, but that would endeavor to explore the idea of history in individuals' lives.  How is an individual actually LIVING history daily?  What does it mean to live in relation to the history that has come before?  How might we even pay homage to past traditions in our daily lives?

There is a clear disconnect that is emerging today, specifically among the younger generation, between history and the individual.  History is something dry, old, dead.  It has no life except what is given to it by the pages of a textbook.  But this is not the history I know.  History is a collection of lives...lives filled with the same heartache, passions, depressions, moments of genius, and moments of humor that exist in our own lives.  They were as we are.  In many cases, their lives were lived very differently...without many of the comforts and luxuries that we know.  That does not make them better, nor does it make us somehow superior.  Perhaps we are superior in that we have advanced technologically...but when it comes to human character, what has changed really?  We still kill, steal, make war, spend money, have sex.  Our drives and motivations have remained constant.

My argument is this.  We need to understand these people and those times, if only to gain insight into why we are who we are today.  We need to know about the ordinary people who made a difference in their time, to push us forward and give us the confidence that despite our condition, we can make a difference too.  We need to read about past conflicts with foreign lands, to help us make wiser and more knowledgeable judgments about politics.  We must study ideas that are so completely different from our own, so that even when we disagree strongly with them, both then and in the present, we can have a perspective that understands both sides and is reasonable.

There is a radio show called This American Life.  It is arguably one of the best programs on radio today.  Its aim is to tell the stories of ordinary people on a variety of topics or themes, with a different theme each week.  The stories are human, they are real, and in many cases they will touch you in some way.  This is how I'm beginning to see history...the stories of lives, stacked up one after another.  Each life touching multiple lives.  We need to hear these stories...they are far too exciting and meaningful to collect dust on a textbook page.