ISSUE-035

The main benefit of the study of history is to dispel the illusion that people living now are significantly different from people who lived in earlier times.


Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.


One important characteristic of the contemporary period is the dramatic changes in the material world, such as globalized economies, advanced information technologies, and expeditious transportation, have generated profound transformations in the world view and state of mind of the private life. It is not surprising to hear older people reminiscing about their past, and expressing nostalgically how their early days were so different from today. On the same note, there is also a widespread sentiment looming over current households that generational gaps are only aggravating and causing more problems in child rearing, home education, and parental relationships. These two common incidences of life experience reveal the extant to which our private lives have been affected by the ever-changing society. In a nutshell, the modern human society is characterized by a radical march toward a better future fueled by accelerated scientific achievement, so much so that experiencing “changes” becomes a central theme of any ordinary life. It is under this condition that we have come to the perception that people living now are significantly different from those of earlier times.

One can argue that this is a false perception because the material prosperity of current societies has clouded some ugly human traits that are persistent throughout human history. A study of colonial history will reveal a pervasive greed for wealth and power, and new forms of colonization can easily be found in today’s world, where, for example, indigenous people are constantly being exploited for their natural resources and geopolitical significance. A history of social oppression will show that racism, ageism, sexism and the like unfairly but dominantly govern many aspects of social activities, and the problems are still acutely present, even today. For instance, police violence towards people of color is a contemporary form of heinous racism that has spurred tides of activism. A history of warfare will demonstrate the unfortunate loop of wars because wars ending with confiscation of the surrender would inevitably nature new ones. For example, the harsh peace settlement was imposed on Germany after WWI, triggered its desire for revenge, which eventually led to another devastating world war.

Even though the list of persistent human traits could go on. I would not go to as far as to suggest that “people are different” is an outright illusion, as the prompt does. In addition to conspicuous changes in the material world, the contemporary era also witnesses changes in cultural narratives, social issues, and ideological pursuits. There are a great number of examples to show that these changes have induced a serious reconsideration of what it means to be a human in the new era. Take equal right activism for example. Western feminism activism believe that the male-female binary gender system is an unnecessary social construct that is not only placing strenuous restraints on individuals who are not comfortable with identifying with any gender representation, but also complicit in the notorious social oppression of sexism. By pivoting equal rights as its central concern, this movement has made a vigorous foray into many aspects of cultural traditions that are based on genders, such as gender division of labor, the male-female marriage system, and social welfare enacted upon male-female family formation. In doing so, this movement helps animate a renewed understanding pf human life, and among many of its important contributions, a good number of universities and corporations have already installed unisex bathrooms instead of the traditional gender specific ones. Similarly, disability activism, animal rights movements, LGBT and queer politics, although controversial for the time being, are all slowly but enduringly changing our ideas about human life. Thus, it is not completely an illusion when we feel people are becoming different from their ancestors.

To conclude, while it does not take much effort to show that material life of the human world has gone through one tremendous revolution after on another, it is not easy to make such a straightforward statement about human nature, even with a meticulous study of human civilization. I believe that a study of history will neither deny nor confirm that people living now are significantly different from those who live in earlier times; it would be ahistorical and absurd to argue that people stay the same across historical periods without considering their particular cultural, social. and political realities, and it would be equally problematic to argue that people across history do not share any sort of commonalities. Rather, I believe that the study of history id a liberating process that helps people learn from their own mistakes, prepare for new challenges, explore different ways of living, and appreciate the diverse range of human experiences.

7 次查看

最新文章

查看全部

Issue-156 Claim: Young people's tendency to make extensive use of portable devices like smartphones and tablets has hurt their development of social skills. Reason: These devices encourage users to fo

Issue-155 Some people believe that traveling to and living in numerous places increases one's ability to relate and connect to other people. Others believe that this ability is better cultivated by li

Issue-154 Some people believe that it is helpful to view a challenging situation as an opportunity for personal growth. Others believe that reimagining challenging situations this way occupies too muc