“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”
— Abraham H. Maslow
In school, unless we had an alternative education, we were taught history through the eyes of the powerful and elite. We learned about Columbus’ voyage to discover the new world and what he encountered there. We learned all about the founding fathers and the Declaration of Independence. We learned that Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves.
This is clearly an overly simplified description of a narrow overview, but I use these examples just to make a point. If we’re viewing history from the perspective of those in power, we’re not really viewing history, are we.
The frame that education uses, the frame mandated for public educational institutions, (funded by public money and which curriculum is determined by the “powers that be”), is a positive one, for the most part. Revising history is a work of fiction, ‘1984‘, and couldn’t possibly happen. But if you think about it, all history is revision.
I came across “The People’s History of the United States“. It’s a book that has been around for almost thirty years and continues to be updated as history continues to be move forward.
This book is a classic reframe and whether or not we can agree that the perspective is valid, or “Marxist” or “socialist”, we have to agree that it is an entirely different frame from what we’re used to.
Look at Columbus’ “discovery” from the perspective of the people who were already there: genocide and blankets with small pox.
And how about those cute Thanksgiving pilgrims that we regard as fleeing religious persecution and bravely venturing onto the New World. The natives might see this as more of a violent colonization by early English settlers.
There’s a fascinating reframe at the end of the most recent edition regarding the “War on Terror”. Instead of accepting the perspective, the frame that Arab terrorists attacked us on 9/11 because they hate our freedom, think about this: they were fed up with our foreign policy, our “stationing of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia… sanctions against Iraq which… had resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children; [and] the continued U.S. support of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.”
Huh? That’s not what the news tells us. Why hasn’t this perspective been reported?
Frames are complicated, just as reality is complicated, just as life is complicated, but if we can see the frames for what they are, then we can control them.
Until Next Time,
Kenrick E. Cleveland