Friday, March 27, 2009

In Which I Take Something Seriously

Hey, kids! Know what month it is?

No, not that one.

Not that one either.

No, it's Frozen Foods month!

This makes me happy. The other history specializations going on this month- and indeed, the way history is generally taught--offends me on an academic level. An accurate accounting of the human past would not consider the work of a handful of powerful men to be "real" history, with everything else shunted to the side! Generally, these are little theme park versions of a single social movement in a culture's past (Suffragettes! Potato Famine! Civil Rights!) so that historians can get them out of the way and get back to the REAL business of discussing Men Killing Each Other in Manly Fashion.* And everyone knows this is unfair and wrong, which is why Special Interest History Months exist anyway, but rarely does any real effort get made to change the underlying teaching structure.

But Frozen Foods month is so bizarre, so unprompted by any real social unease, that it's actually worth noticing. It points the way to a better, more accurate way of considering human culture, one that takes focus away from the battles and the coronations and puts it on the things that really matter: the endless little inventions, made by mostly forgotten humans over every day of every millennia of our existence, that have made things better for the humans of their day, so they have the breathing room to make things even better, and so on. It's the little things adding up that carried humans across every continent on earth--and even farther.

Don't believe me? Quick, what's more important to scheduling your day:
(1)Alexander the Great caused Rome some problems.
(2)The sacking of Lindisfarne
(3)Bleeding Kansas
(4)Dinner is in the freezer when I get home

That's what I thought. I acknowledge that the US, as a whole, is a rather future-oriented culture, in that we're doing well to remember last Tuesday. But even in cultures that really nurture their ties to their past, even people who hang on to ancient grudges like they're a good pair of boots, well, folks gotta eat. And wear clothes. And like as not, write down messages in some way. And all of that is made possible not by conquest and battle, but by frozen foods, and new kinds of plant hybrids, and innovations in looms....

So here's to frozen foods month. May it help everyone learn to see our history, not as a grim march of battles and treaties, but as the shared web of ideas it really is.

Now excuse me, I'm gonna go make dinner.

Other nifty things too often overlooked:
The Red Cross-people at their best, when things are at their worst
Social Workers--much maligned, little rewarded, but you know all those people "someone" ought to help? These are the someones.
Peanuts!--They changed the American South. They can be eaten in every course of the meal. They don't even need refrigeration! Find out about one of the awesomest crops ever to be domesticated.

*I find Men Doing Stupid Stuff In A Manly Fashion highly entertaining, mind you, but that's why I have Ninja Warrior and Man Vs. Wild. It's fun, but it's not History.


The Fab Miss B said...

Hee hee! It's true- frozen dinners are a part of most folks daily lives and it's nice to give those humble tv trays their due. Great post.

agoodwitchtoo said...

Um... I'd have to pick number 4. Followed closely by number 2.


Carapace said...

MissB! Nice to see you here! I envy your avi parasol.

Witchy- I am very interested in how the Lindisfarne sack effects you. Seriously, that is potentially rocksome. :)