Who Decides How History Gets Recorded?
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead
After tragic events, as most recently evident in Gaza, Ukraine, Syria, and Ferguson, there is always a swarm of headlines that follows. Often times, the media spotlight around these stories can become a sensationalized frenzy blinded by heavy speculation. This begs to ask how we outsiders bear witness to events and what exactly is it that draws us so closely to pain and tragedy?
In the aftermath of tragic events, communities come together not only to alleviate the situation, but also to lend insight into the injustice and suffering hoping that these events can be prevented for future generations. This marks our best attempt to prevent the cursory path of history repeating itself. Beyond the direct community, there is a fascinating responsibility left for journalists and photojournalists to document how these events get written.
While the loudest, most apparent voice present in media may be that of the writer, news anchor or photographer, the most powerful is the gained voice. If instead of trying to impose a subjective understanding, the journalist presents the story in an unbiased way that allows the stories of those directly involved to transpire beyond the bound pages of history.
This shows how the responsibility to record history is not left solely in the hands of journalists. With the mass amounts of information circulating the web, each of us has the responsibility to be mindful individuals by using these readily available tools. With this, every individual has the power to decipher all the circular muddled conversation and use their own voice to impact global affairs.
One crowdfunding project I’ve been extremely proud to be a part of is citizen journalist Brown Moses’ site, Bellingcat. The site is a supreme example of how a small, dedicated group of individuals can change the history books. In the first two weeks of operation since the Kickstarter campaign, the site already went on to pinpoint the location of a Buk launcher in the procession of pro-Russian rebels, locate a training camp for Islamic militants, and source the true perpetrators of the Sarin attacks in Damascus last year.
We are left with the beginning questions of what should history mean and why we should be obsessed with that question. In filling this absent place, the importance of names takes over. This summer we all felt the impact of Michael Brown, James Foley, and Robin Williams, each a human with a face to give reality to events that occur. At this point, we as readers and viewers are again able to question the objectivity of accounts and formulate personal understanding based on the ability to empathize and connect with another individual.
In The Architecture of Happiness, Alain de Botton describes this best in writing “It is in dialogue with pain that many beautiful things acquire their value. Acquaintance with grief turns out to be one of the more unusual prerequisites of architectural appreciation. We might, quite aside from all other requirements, need to be a little sad before buildings can properly touch us.”
Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.
- Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
- At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
- Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Neuroscience research suggests it might be time to rethink our ideas about when exactly a child becomes an adult.
- Research suggests that most human brains take about 25 years to develop, though these rates can vary among men and women, and among individuals.
- Although the human brain matures in size during adolescence, important developments within the prefrontal cortex and other regions still take pace well into one's 20s.
- The findings raise complex ethical questions about the way our criminal justice systems punishes criminals in their late teens and early 20s.
Three scientists publish a paper proving that Mercury, not Venus, is the closest planet to Earth.
- Earth is the third planet from the Sun, so our closest neighbor must be planet two or four, right?
- Wrong! Neither Venus nor Mars is the right answer.
- Three scientists ran the numbers. In this YouTube video, one of them explains why our nearest neighbor is... Mercury!
A new method of growing mini-brains produces some startling results.
- Researchers find a new and inexpensive way to keep organoids growing for a year.
- Axons from the study's organoids attached themselves to embryonic mouse spinal cord cells.
- The mini-brains took control of muscles connected to the spinal cords.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.