Historical ignorance and the price we pay for it
All this fear being raised over immigration reminds me of the fears our parents had in the 60s and 70s over Communism and pot. Eventually, those fears subsided. Communism collapsed under the weight of its own oppression and inability to meet the basic needs of its citizens. We encouraged citizens from Communist nations to flee and yet they were detained within their own borders by walls. Ronald Reagan challenged Communist leaders to tear down their walls and bring freedom to its people.
It seems incredible so many of our own citizens are ignorant to the ancient history of the 1980s. They actually believe we remain free when we construct walls. Yes, they help to keep people out, but the same time, they also are used to keep us contained.
We also fought, and lost, an expensive war on “drugs” because we saw marijuana as a great evil. The more we fought that war with both money and manpower, the more people rejected a government policy steeped in hypocrisy. Why a war on marijuana when it is no more dangerous than the tobacco and alcohol our leaders consumed? Was it a war for the health of our youth or one to preserve the profits of RJ Reynolds and Anheuser-Busch?
There are motives at play today that go beyond what some think is a legitimate fear of terrorists infiltrating our country. Communists didn’t infiltrate America as a guy named McCarthy wanted us to believe and we have not faced an actual influx of terrorists walking across our southern border.
What we do have is a government that goes to great lengths to not teach us about our history. We may be asked to know our capitols and a few names and dates, but not much more. Today, we see social media posts imploring us to demand our kids be required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance because they think doing so makes them better people.
What we don’t want is for our children to have a greater knowledge and appreciation for both our successes and failures as a nation because our leaders seem to always look for ways to cash in on our ignorance of history. And forget about world history. We cannot allow our children to understand the people, cultures, and dynamics of the world beyond our walls because they may actually see it in a light we do not agree with.
Sending our kids to school to not learn the history of our nation and the world is like raising them without teaching them about your own family background. The less they know, the less they will question. It ends up promoting self-contentedness over self-sacrifice and the understanding that every generation faces challenges. Indeed, their ignorance is our leaders’ bliss.
However, when we understand our history, we learn our greatest challenges have come from within our borders and not beyond. Slavery, a Trail of Tears, expansion, industrialization, the rise of unions, corporate greed, and civil rights are just some of our greatest successes and battles and all were from within.
So before you sign on to support the cost of a wall or another war, study where we have been and ask yourself are these costs we really need to pay to keep this great nation a beacon for all others or are they costs we can ill afford if we want to remain the nation we originally set out to be?
Jim is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is also the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching. Jim considers himself an equal opportunity pain in the ass to any political party, group, or individual who looks to profit off of hypocrisy. When he is not pointing out the conflicting words and actions of our leaders, the NFL commissioner, or humans in general, he can be found riding his bike for hours on end while pondering his next article. Jim recently moved to Camarillo, CA after being convinced to join the witness protection program.