So I had a shocking realization recently. Well, two now I think about it.
First: Zootopia is a play on Utopia, both in name and concept.
Second, and more importantly: Not everyone who loves books loves history. Not everyone who loves history loves books.
I know. Groundbreaking stuff.
I never knew just how strange it was that my love of reading and my love of history were inextricably intertwined. Didn’t everyone read books like Johnny Tremain and Toliver’s Secret to learn about the American Revolution? Or read Shakespeare’s history plays to actually learn about history?
Because that’s how I grew up. The goal of reading a book was to find history. The goal of learning history was to find a story. Because you don’t really understand either subject until you can view them through the scope of the other.
You can’t fully understand the industrial revolution in England unless you read books like Mary Barton and North and South.
You can’t understand The Book Thief without the context of WWII.
To me it’s always been blindingly simple.
Apparently it’s not.
Maybe that’s why I hold historical fiction and historical dramas to such a different standard than literally the rest of the world. Because whether you want it to or not, what you read and what you watch affects the way you think.
I know I touched on this subject in a previous post, but it keeps becoming more evident to me how much entertainment value is placed above historical accuracy. The more worrying trend is a tendency to impose modern values on history, or to take facts out of context to support a politcal agenda or worldview.
You can’t think less of William Wilberforce because he wasn’t a feminist before the term was even coined.
You can’t take a single sentence out of a personal letter Thomas Jefferson wrote and use it to prove the founding fathers weren’t Christian.
Right or wrong, England, France, Germany, and Spain colonized the globe and displaced or destroyed native populations. But only after the same had been done by Rome, Macedonia, Mongolia, Japan, China, Egypt, the list goes on and on.
Why is it that the collective consciousness only stretches back as far as the latest grievance?
Much as many people would disagree, a Utopian society is impossible. It has never existed. It will never exist. No matter how many safe spaces, trigger warnings, free education and healthcare, or guns there are, society is constantly coming apart at the seams. And sometimes those seams give way completely, and the result is war.
But then something beautiful happens.
Wars end, and a new society, complete with its own set of flaws, rises from the ruins.
Humanity is incapable of attaining perfection. But as long as we continue striving for it, society can improve. Not through condemnation of those who are striving differently than you are. Not by pretending we don’t make mistakes. Not by refusing to help those who need it. But together, in the beautiful mosaic that is humanity.
I’m not really sure I believe what I just wrote. I don’t even know if it will make sense to anyone. But that won’t stop me from trying to help who I can. Because there’s no point in having lofty aspirations of changing society and minds if you’re willing to step on those around you to get there.
Also, while I have your attention, go check out my friends over at The Thistlette! They’re a little more consistent with their postings, and actually stick to the subject of the blog, unlike yours truly. Plus, they’re just awesome people who deserve support.