Monday, March 8, 2010

History is knowledge

I recently was talking to a very knowledgeable person about my reading material in the restrooms of my house. Yes, I have reading material in them....sometimes it is the only place I can get a few uninterrupted minutes to read.

One of the books is the "Great Mortality" about the Black Death plague that hit Europe in the mid 1300's. This visitor to my home enjoyed the downstairs reading: A book about how famous persons died and where they were buried, and asked about the one upstairs.

"It's about the Black Death."
"The what?"
"The black death: the plague that decimated 2/3 of the population of Europe in the 1300's"
About this time I'm reminded of the ex-boyfriend who didn't know what Stonehenge was....
"I've never heard of that."

Ok, what are kids being taught in school these days? Not even that, but the History Channel digs out their documentary on it at least twice a year and shows it. In the scope of humanity, the Black Death was an awful thing, but it caused a major shift in culture, economics, and how society works. When 2/3 of the people around you die in mere months, things are bound to change.

Peasants were given more latitude in negotiations with landowners. The apprentice-type market was altered when millions of craftsmen lost their journeymen or their teachers. Relationship dynamics changed. The arts were given a macabre twist.

And yet.....they don't teach that?

There are many lessons to be learned from the Black Death: whatever causes mass death is one thing, but the changes to the lives of the living is another. Think about all of those incidents where millions of people have lost their lives: The Holocaust, Stalin, Pol Pot, Rwanda....and think about how those who have survived have changed their lives.

No comments: