Studying History: The Human Experience

March 30, 2012
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The human experience is a vast realm which has been able to manifest in many ways. This realm stirs the mind of every person who comes into contact with it. Looking back into history, even those who chose to immerse themselves in the realm of nature and science must have begun their thinking with imagination. Art and literature, philosophy and religion, politics and the law all have been fundamental in guiding humans through their heavenly quest towards perfection. This yearning to be perfect is asymptotic, never to be reached. This quest, however, is in the heart and soul of everyone living on earth. This innate love of creation, where mankind takes marble and makes a sculpture, or takes the idea of God and builds a religion, is the backbone of history. The development of this creativeness through time shows that humans have access to a specific inspiration. This inspiration may be Godly, heavenly, or innate, but I choose to call it the historical inspiration. Each generation shows that it learns from those that have come before it. Man has built on the idea of pyramids to eventually arrive at the Freedom Tower. We have taken the idea of the Hammurabi code, and landed on the Constitution of the United States of America. History serves as a jumping point for all the humanities, it serves as their key. Without understanding where man has been, it is impossible to fully open the realm to creativeness and new thinking.

Studying history also provides the individual with a greater knowledge of society, and society with a greater knowledge of the individual. Different people have different experiences and characteristics, with each person bringing something new into the world. Looking back into the history of mankind, it seems as if there is an endless amount of people with which to identify. Strains of philosophy greatly affect the political thought of the age. History shows that only one person is needed to change the “world.” Whether that world is that of the individual or the community, it can forever be affected by the simple actions of a person or group. When people leave their marks, their inspirational throngs transcend the barriers of time. Even today, most people can see themselves in a period of history. My personal interests, which lie in the history of the British Isles, have taken me to find a connection between myself and pre-reformation English spirituality. Thus, I was allowed to find a part of myself that I never knew existed before. The historical inspiration thus manifests in opening people up to their past: the human past.

The significance of the historical inspiration comes full circle when history shows its tendency to repeat. There seems to be a cycle that shows the progression of mankind. Looking back on the beginnings of each cycle, it is surprising to see how ignorant and undeveloped human thinking was. For example, it is shameful that Jim Crow laws were enacted until 1965 in the United States of America. The Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s helped change those laws and rightfully make them anathema. The cycle picked up again in the 1980s when the United States strived to show that there was a “New South” emerging. Television shows such as Designing Women depicted Southern belles with liberal agendas, trying to change the way people thought of minorities such as the LGBT community. Although much of Southern Culture was preserved, it was also changed for the better. People throughout America became more compassionate towards their fellow man, and started to exhibit non-biased personalities. The progression of liberalism in the south can be seen throughout the rotation of the repetitive historical cycle.

Learning about the past is a common method for preparing for the future. History functions as a cycle, which forces equal importance on each period in time. The progression of human thought is vital to our world today. We see things once regarded as impossible or insignificant now becoming the center of concern, such as global warming and evolution. Life in the modern day proves that science is becoming an integral part of society. Today, it is used in fighting disease and preventing habitat destruction. Seeing how theories have become more acceptable as time has moved on, such as evolution, the historian can deduce that it is only a certain amount of time until most people accept the scientific support for global warming. Tracing the acceptance of evolution is not completely comparable to that of global warming, because the latter holds so many important things at risk. So many animals could die and living conditions could change if this world refuses to change its ways. History shows, however, that as science begins to have a larger place in our society, more people will come to the realization of the importance of being “green”. History shows that humans change the way they think for the better. Scientific and modern philosophical thought will continue to grow showing that human society’s thirst for knowledge.

When I think about the things which grab my interest, in other words, “make me tick,” my first thoughts dwell on history and art. In my mind, they are both the same. Art is a human creation that coexists in nature with politics, philosophy, and literature. I want a part of my life to be devoted to these two noble subjects. I feel that, in academia, I could be very successful inspiring students and helping them find their essence in ages past. I frequently ask myself why I am so enthralled with what history has to offer. Who inspired me? One of my biggest inspirations is my Uncle Jim. A music history teacher for forty years at Friends’ Central School outside Philadelphia, he helped me cultivate my early love for British History. He took me to High-Anglican churches and explained to me why the monarchy is so important. Although he never taught me in a classroom, we used the world as our inspiration. He showed me that going into academia is a very respectable profession. Now, I consider it something that I am thoroughly interested in doing. I want to share my interests with others, and help students learn a discipline that unites the human experience with the humans that it captivates.

I think it very honorable for someone to feel called to teaching, to academic writing and to research. It shows that history has captured them, and that they have captured history. The subject allows me to understand who I am, and that I have a contribution to society and to culture. Each person brings something of their own into this world – that is what the history books are all about. I feel that I must bring my interests into the world in my own way. A degree in history would allow me to do just that. Teaching, however noble it may be, is not the only part of being a historian. My goal is to bring the subject into a modern light, and show that it isn’t restricted to elderly men spending their time in university libraries. My writing will show that history is something that can be related to, not a subject that is distant or cluttered.

Studying at William and Mary and at the University of Saint Andrews, I would be given proximity to many historic cities. Atmosphere is truly a part of inspiration and incentive for learning. Studying at such distinguished institutions would allow me to make connections with prominent academics, who I would someday like to call my professors. The duality of two separate institutions would give me more of a worldly outlook. The experience would be far beyond any study abroad program or regular college experience. I would be going to two separate colleges, making friends and relations in both. I feel that this program would allow me to realize that there is a world outside just one institution or school, which is an opportunity I feel that many American Undergraduate Students are not given.

The “Historical Inspiration” that drives culture and human development throughout the ages has also driven me to apply to the joint degree program between The College of William and Mary and the University of Saint Andrews. I am not afraid to experience new things, or to go out into the world and embrace diversity. The worldly experience I would gain from going to both institutions would allow me to make friends, enjoy new things, and to have a greater understanding of the world I will be going into. My expectations meet my goals in the sense that I wish to broaden my experiences and to devote four years to making friends, forging relations with professors, and seeing the historical inspiration work in a wider theatre: the world.





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