Older, but not Wiser

After reading much of Arthur Marwick’s British Society since 1945, I was surprised to find that there were so many parallels between the goings on in Britain and events in the United States. Our history books do not inform us of the racial tensions and rioting in Britain, but it happened-and in the same years as here. Growing up, I never thought about the racial problems in other countries. I suppose I assumed the world was looking at the United States and that our citizens were the only ones fighting for equality. It is almost shaming to know that another powerful and civilized nation was also struggling with the same issues, as if civilized society as I had thought of it was a farce, exposed through the writings and statistics of Marwick’s book.

Reflecting back on all the readings and my own knowledge of history, I know I should not be shocked. After all, the attitude of white supremacy came out of colonialism, with Britain at its head. Why, then, was I so quick to forget that racism was a problem for most first world countries? One explanation is that I thought, as the new nation on the block, America was behind the times on getting equality for its citizens. We know that Europe is much more established in its history than we will be for a long time. On a vacation to Germany a few years ago, we went with some friends to tour around. As he was translating, our friend said, “This monastery was began in 1300 or so, and how old is your country?” The joke was so true, though. We are a young nation even still, but assuming that older nations have it all figured out just because of age is an illusion so false that I am embarrassed to admit it. This class has certainly opened my mind to diversity, but it has also begun reshaping my idea of world history, and I need to educate myself to avoid stereotypes and violations of the very diversity we are learning to recognize.