TOPIC: ISSUE48 - "The study of history places too much emphasis on individuals. The most significant events and trends in history were made possible not by the famous few, but by groups of people whose identities have long been forgotten."
WORDS: 555 TIME: 01:17:25 DATE: 2008-10-13 13:48:32
In this statement, the speaker asserts that history study should pay more attention to the large groups of people for they were the maker of historic events. I agree that those events were largely made by the majority than some famous individuals. However, I disagree with the speaker that we are expected to study these people to clarify the history.
To begin with, I concede that most people rather than a few of elites contributed to the process of history. Almost all historical construction projects were attributable to the labor of ordinary people. The Great Wall was built by countless soldiers from every dynasty in ancient China; similarly, Egyptian pyramids- although initially built as tombs for the kings- were build by craftsmen and slaves with no names. In every famous battle, brave warriors and strong fighters are the determining factor finally leading to the victory. Many of them were killed on the battle field and left nothing about their names, their stories, and their contributions, but they were the maker of the history. After World War II every counties, from United Kingdom to China, from United States to USSR, built monuments in the center square of the capital city. On these monuments wrote: "In memory of the defenders of our country", without any specific names. Those monuments reveal that both government and later generations agree that those nameless people contributed to the process of history.
Secondly, although the total efforts made by the elites was less than ordinary people, when considering average contribution by a single person, those famous people really did more. Sometimes, their behavior, decision, or even speech had great impact on the history and let to dramatic changes of the society. In the field of political, kings, presidents and other governors are more powerful than ordinary people. Their ideas had vast influences on the history. For instance, if Spanish Queen Isabella was unwilling to support Columbus' voyage, the discovery of America might be delayed for many years. Although Columbus and his crew made more efforts than Queen Isabella, her decision changed the history equally or more significant than Columbus' adventure.
Finally, the speaker's method about how to study history is not feasible. I admit that the sum of ordinary people's efforts is great, but studies based on them would be either too costing or unconvincing. On one hand, if we try to study every single person in the history, from generals to soldiers, from kinds to citizens. This project is not time-consuming or money-consuming, but actually impossible. Take the battle of Normandy in World War II for example, only allied forces contained more than 2,880,000 soldiers. It was not proper to study all of them. On the other hand, when we study those people as a whole, it is still hard to draw a clear picture of history. Without any study on individuals valuable information was neglected and therefore we were not able to know how the events developed specifically. As a mid-way, to study some famous individuals can reveal the history with a low cost.
In conclusion, history was made by the people as a whole and the contribution by the groups of people was valuable. Nevertheless, when we seek a vivid and clear view of history, studying those famous people who made great efforts is a relatively proper way.