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What Is History? Essay, Research Paper

What Is History?

What is history? Where do I start? And who says it started there? I wasn?t there,

does it matter? Can I accept whatever happens in another part of the world into my

personal history, or just in the worlds history? What parts of history are most important?

Who decides? What a question! The word history has many attached meanings to it, and

the result is that the definition for history depends on who it is you are asking. But What

is it? Dictionary.com states that, ?history is a narrative of events; a story.? Everyone has

stories. it goes without saying then that everyone has history. But what about looking at

the world in a broader aspect. I think we could look at humans, in whole, and see that we

all have a history; a social history. Also, what students mostly study in textbooks, and in

lecture halls; political history. Therefore, history, in my terms, can be broken into three

very different branches: Personal, Social, and political.

A friend of mine unfortunately parted ways with a woman whom he devoted a

long period of time to. Inquiring, as I often do, I ask for the details on their break up. I

was given a response of, ?Man, She?s history.? And my friend is exactly correct. This

woman now lies within his personal history. Had this girl never came into my friends life,

he could not claim her a part of his history; his past. We have defined history as, ?a

story,? and my friend can tell stories of him and his girl. (in fact lately that is all he talks


The Vietnam war was a very important part in history. Actually, the boss at my

present place of employment served a long period of time in the war. He was a grunt. I

have asked him about it, trying to hear maybe a story or two of what it was like, but he

doesn?t like to talk about it. this part of his history he shuts out. Many veterans are like

this. I believe the reason being is that the war that is in his history is a very different war

than we could ever read in books or hear about from professors. War is different for

everyone; as is history itself.

These few examples give way to the first area of history; personal history. This is

the story that everyone has. A day to day evolving story of everything that resides in an

individuals past. Anything someone can think of that has happened; their retelling of it

becomes history. Personal history can, just as the other branches of history, be interpreted

for meaning and truth, and most importantly to help with decisions in the future. My

friend who had the, ?split up,? can now go over all the history he has with his girl and

figure out what it was the lead to the break up. this is important, for this information can

help him with future relationships. On the other hand, as in the case of my boss, some

people refuse analyzing the past for information. Sometimes the stories are too difficult;

too hard to handle. This is acceptable, for it is his history and his choice to do with it

what he wants.

The next aspect of history is the social history that we all help to form. Social

history resides on a broader scale of things, throwing out every single personal history.

Social history, I define, is the story of human beings. How we got to where we are today.

What we did to get here. How we have changed. In social history we can understand

different groups of humans, and this is where we are greatly influenced by things such as

culture, family, and living. Our social history is long. It starts somewhere in the middle of

nothing. God or the Big Bang? you pick. and it ends up here right now. We started small,

maybe even as small as little neutrons and protons, but we have evolved. We have

created a language, created trasnspotation, created the basics of living (food, water,

shelter) most importantly we have created the thoughts feelings and moods which now

influence us on our journey ahead. To retrace some steps, Social history is how the

human exists. What he and she have done to remain.

Last but not least is political history. Personal it is my most un-favorite are, but

that is not important. Someone decided long ago that politics are important, and so they

are. Political history is the history that separates one nation from another. Political history

is the study of our own government, what it has done to help get us where we are, also

what it has not done. With political history often comes an unruly amount of names and

faces and dates. This history is often the most mistaken. A little bit cleaned up to make it

look good on paper, if you will. History books retell what happened, politically and often

socially, so we can understand where we come from and where we are headed. For years

in grade school and in high school you were to read your history books as if they were the

truth. Now in college I have come to the understanding that what lies in the books are

only words. These words may help understand what went on in the past, but they can not

be exact. For instance, I never learned, in high school, that when pearl Harbor was

bombed that Americans set up there own camps for the Japanese; just as Hitler did for

the Jews. This was not in the books, the teacher didn?t speak a word of it; yet it remains a

very important part of history. It shows not only was that time for the ?Americanese,? a

tough one, but also that we as American were influenced by the disgusting, demanding

powers of Hitler.

Politics; one of the three taboo?s when you are in a bar. You never talk about

money, religion, or politics. This is the truth. Many people have their own interpretation

of political history. Many kling to the red, white and blue as if it is all they know. It is

wrong though, that instead of learning about what really happened in the past, we learned

about things like patriotism, ? the golden era,? and all the other glitter. Our political

history runs as deep as the Mississippi. And I am sure if you want to scrape up info on

politics in the past, they may be as muddy as that big river.

This is our history; take it or leave it. It is what we have done; good or bad.

Again, our history can be broken down to three different branches; Personal, Social, and

Political. All of these, if studied in an un-bias manner, can help to see what lies ahead

tomorrow. We know what he have done, and we know what we can do; we just wait to

see what happens. In the meanwhile there is history. Something to talk about; ? A story.?

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