2017-08-17 / Viewpoint

The VIEW from here

Understanding history and absolute uncertainty


Andrew Dietderich—Staff Writer Andrew Dietderich—Staff Writer First things first: This is not a political column. The most impactful news events in my life can be narrowed down to roughly a handful.

They include: John Lennon and President Ronald Reagan being shot; the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster; Gulf War (who can forget the gut-wrenching feeling of watching war live on TV?); Kurt Cobain’s suicide; and, of course, Sept. 11, 2001.

Living through those things obviously made them more “real” for me than the parts of history I’ve only experienced through the eyes of others, and via interpretations relayed through school, books, TV, movies, etc.

But lately, those “foreign” parts of history seem more real, largely because it seems easier to relate to what it must have been like to live through them.

I’m starting to understand, for example, how my parents and grandparents could have been spooked by the Red Scare of the 1950s. Until now, it seemed, well, like a plot to some old black-and-white movie more than anything else.

Remember, this is not a political column.

Similarly, there is the mystery of the Vietnam War. Like many people my age and younger, I’ve had to rely on resources like movies and documentaries to get a feel for what it was like to be an American at the time.

I’ve always tried to wrap my head around how we got into it, why we stayed, and how it may have felt to live in America at the time. Recent events have me starting to feel like I understand a bit better.

On the same topic, I’ve wondered how a country like ours could be so drastically divided, as history shows us it was during the Vietnam War, and how a country could be fighting itself at home (riots from Harlem, New Jersey, and Philly to Los Angeles) while facing challenges from other countries. That, too, is becoming easier to understand.

But no, this is not a political column.

Watergate. A president cheating to get elected? As the country dealt with the Vietnam War?

From Wikipedia:

Time magazine described Nixon as undergoing ‘daily hell and very little trust.’

The distrust between the press and the

Nixon administration was mutual and greater than usual due to lingering dissatisfaction with events from the Vietnam War. At the same time, public distrust of the media was polled at more than 40 percent.”

And I was in diapers. Still, even after putting it all together years later, I never could fully grasp the magnitude of a situation in which our president could be accused of such actions.

This is not a political column, though many will no doubt view it as such.

The accusations of being part of the so-called “liberal media” probably have already been started by some, keyboards ablaze with insults now fully acceptable and the norm.

That’s despite the fact I’ve not indicated feeling one way or another about another person, politician or otherwise.

The only thing I’m saying is that I feel like I have a better understanding — unlike at any other point in my life — of how people may have felt living in a world of absolute uncertainty during the unfolding of what ultimately became significant historical events.

Whom is to blame, or not blame, is irrelevant because after all, this is not a political column.

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