AP World History Unveiled My Eyes To The Pack Of Lies We Were Taught About Humanity

AP World History Unveiled My Eyes To The Pack Of Lies We Were Taught About Humanity

It was only now that I realized my entire life, I've been taught lies.
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At first, I have to say I was pretty scared.

My entire life, nothing had prompted me to want to ever take a history class or major in a social studies of any sorts. I'm still not sure as to why I decided to take this class, but going in, I remember feeling the stress of it in the air before I sat in my desk for the first time.

Most of my friends had gladly dodged this bullet by taking the course over the summer, but I had put myself in this position, in this classroom, because I figured it was worth noting the experience of being in a college-level history class. I wouldn't ever be able to anyway after high school — I simply had no interest.

Although most of my class shared the same feeling as I did towards the subject, my teacher was as enthusiastic about history as I was about the school's dismissal bell. Every day he would come in and lecture, ready to prepare us and eagerly spout information about the blossoming of ancient Egypt, how the ancient Chinese originally built ruins we see today, how religion formed and how we migrated as humans to live where we are today.

Every day he helped us understand the world we live in just a little more and just a little deeper. It was slow, but I have to admit that I began looking forward to attending his class.

For some reason, I was unaffected by the stress in the air for the first couple of months. I already understood how societies developed, how they fell and how they grew back. I understood the transition from humans being hunter-gatherers to becoming self-sufficient farmers. I understood the importance of trade for these ancient civilizations and the magnitude for the discovery of the Western hemisphere.

However, I couldn't understand how many great feats we were able to achieve back then and yet be where we are now: on the brink of a nuclear war, have high foreign diplomatic tensions and a rapidly worsening national debt.

How had we as a society built ourselves from clans with sticks and berries to be cosmopolitans of such unequal degrees today? Why is Africa starving? Why does the Middle East hate us so?

I suppose before taking this class, I felt that I had somewhat of an understanding of the history of the world — of us as humans. I knew empires and such existed; I remembered something along the lines of the existence of a "Triangular Trade" when we covered slavery and both World Wars were drilled into my head for being terrible events.

But now, I feel that I've become a new person. I used to have so much trust in who we, as people, used to be: we were hunters, we were caretakers, we were knights, slaves, pharaohs, explorers, nomads and farmers. We were...diverse and accepted the world and who we were in it.

Imagine how I felt when I was taught the opposite.

We weren't explorers. We were rapists and pillagers that took land without asking questions or permission. We weren't farmers either. We cut down land and trees carelessly to make room for ourselves, not caring about the environmental effects or the impact on wildlife.

The belief that the past built the foundations for the future of humanity was the biggest lie I've ever been taught, and it wasn't until taking this class when I realized that most of the problems I see today are because of our past, not our present.

For example, Africa is seen to be so underdeveloped and impoverished because the major powers of that time made it so. The "Scramble for Africa" was a movement brought about by European colonial powers to divide Africa among themselves in order to exploit them for their resources. As Europeans grew rich, Africans were left as inferiors, tasked to keep creating resources to fuel the factories and economy of the major powers.

When African states were finally granted freedom (in the late 1950s!), they were left shaping their own government and creating their own economies. They were left with boundaries for countries they had not drawn themselves, now within the same territories as rival tribes and clans. They were left with conflict and instability that is still seen today.

Both WWI and WWII could have been short wars, played over a few years with less causality as we know it had created today. However, it gained in magnitude and size because European nations formed alliances with each other, building tension and intensifying the war beyond anyone's belief.

The damaged economies after the first world war led to the massive rise in dictatorships: those who seemed to possess the ability to "fix" their country, leading to the eventual rise of Nazi Germany. The second world war would bring massive loss on both sides, massive famine, massive drafting and spread of disease after, creating a worse situation than before the war had begun — environmentally, socially and politically.

Most of our history is shaped on the foundation of instability, war and trying to survive each other rather than in the world we had lived in. We valued industry over the environment, economies over peasants and titles of power over freedom to the people and the lives they lived under such strict regimes.

We valued ourselves.

Today, our high tensions with Russia isn't because they supposedly were involved in our 2016 election but rather due to the Soviet Union's spread of communism and the Cold War that followed. A series of proxy wars and international competitions to prove that communism or a liberal democracy was better had drove deep wounds into both countries, setting the final blow on Russia with the collapse of the Soviet Union due to economic stress in trying to out preform the U.S.

The problems seen in the Middle East today isn't due to oil production, rather religious tension in the Shia v.s. Sunni divide that took place in the Islamic faith; feeding the current and ongoing Syrian Civil War. Slavery did not end with Abraham Lincoln's "Emancipation Proclamation;" in fact, many slaves continued to work on fields after because it was all they knew how to do.

In a way, I feel lied to growing up listening to how great Christopher Columbus was in "discovering America," and the founding of Thanksgiving, both of which had a more genocidal and cruel coming to light. Not only am I happy, but grateful that I decided to take AP World History because I am able to see the world with a new lens that's critical and analytical — one that no longer hides the truth behind why we are who we are today.

We have a bloodstained path, filled with cruelty and crimes against humanity, but it is our history.

Most importantly however, I am now able to know what we should and shouldn't be repeating in our world today that had occurred within our past. I can only hope others will find the courage to take this class, too, and be able to do the same.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay/ Anonymous

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I Am A College Student, And I Think Free Tuition Is Unfair To Everyone Who's Already Paid For It

Stop expecting others to pay for you.

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I attend Fordham University, a private university in the Bronx.

I commute to school because I can't afford to take out more loans than I already do.

Granted, I've received scholarships because of my grades, but they don't cover my whole tuition. I am nineteen years old and I have already amassed the debt of a 40-year-old. I work part-time and the money I make covers the bills I have to pay. I come from a middle-class family, but my dad can't afford to pay off my college loans.

I'm not complaining because I want my dad to pay my loans off for me; rather I am complaining because while my dad can't pay my loans off (which, believe me, he wants too), he's about to start paying off someone else's.

During the election, Bernie frequently advocated for free college.

Now, if he knew enough about economics he would know it simply isn't feasible. Luckily for him, he is seeing his plan enacted by Cuomo in NY. Cuomo has just announced that in NY, state public college will be free.

Before we go any further, it's important to understand what 'free' means.

Nothing is free; every single government program is paid for by the taxpayers. If you don't make enough to have to pay taxes, then something like this doesn't bother you. If you live off welfare and don't pay taxes, then something like this doesn't bother you. When someone offers someone something free, it's easy to take it, like it, and advocate for it, simply because you are not the one paying for it.

Cuomo's free college plan will cost $163,000,000 in the first year (Did that take your breath away too?). Now, in order to pay for this, NY state will increase their spending on higher education to cover these costs. Putting two and two together, if the state decides to raise their budget, they need money. If they need money they look to the taxpayers. The taxpayers are now forced to foot the bill for this program.

I think education is extremely important and useful.

However, my feelings on the importance of education does not mean that I think it should be free. Is college expensive? Yes -- but more so for private universities. Public universities like SUNY Cortland cost around $6,470 per year for in-state residents. That is still significantly less than one of my loans for one semester.

I've been told that maybe I shouldn't have picked a private university, but like I said, I believe education is important. I want to take advantage of the education this country offers, and so I am going to choose the best university I could, which is how I ended up at Fordham. I am not knocking public universities, they are fine institutions, they are just not for me.

My problems with this new legislation lie in the following: Nowhere are there any provisions that force the student receiving aid to have a part-time job.

I work part-time, my sister works part-time, and plenty of my friends work part-time. Working and going to school is stressful, but I do it because I need money. I need money to pay my loans off and buy my textbooks, among other things. The reason I need money is because my parents can't afford to pay off my loans and textbooks as well as both of my sisters'. There is absolutely no reason why every student who will be receiving aid is not forced to have a part-time job, whether it be working in the school library or waitressing.

We are setting up these young adults up for failure, allowing them to think someone else will always be there to foot their bills. It's ridiculous. What bothers me the most, though, is that my dad has to pay for this. Not only my dad, but plenty of senior citizens who don't even have kids, among everyone else.

The cost of living is only going up, yet paychecks rarely do the same. Further taxation is not a solution. The point of free college is to help young adults join the workforce and better our economy; however, people my parents' age are also needed to help better our economy. How are they supposed to do so when they can't spend their money because they are too busy paying taxes?

Free college is not free, the same way free healthcare isn't free.

There is only so much more the taxpayers can take. So to all the students about to get free college: get a part-time job, take personal responsibility, and take out a loan — just like the rest of us do. The world isn't going to coddle you much longer, so start acting like an adult.

Cover Image Credit: https://timedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/free-college-new-york-state.jpg?quality=85

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Writing Saved My Sanity

Write it all down when you can't talk to anyone.

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I love writing.

I have since elementary school, and I've dreamed of becoming a published author. I started off writing stupid plays in elementary school, then it grew it almost writing a full-blown novel in middle school. I have no idea where that thing went to. It was all notebook paper and bad writing. In high school, my writing was kinda pushed to the side so I could focus on school. When I entered college, I started writing small poems about my now ex-boyfriend.

I was scared to express myself to him sometimes, the intensity of my feelings for him scared me. So instead of telling him, I wrote them down. When I tried to share them with him, he hated it. He thought writing down feelings was weird and creepy. So I didn't share anything else with him. When we finally broke up for good, everything just poured out of me. What I couldn't express verbally, I wrote or typed out.

I always have ideas flowing through my head. They never cease and I wouldn't want them to. Writing gives me an escape, from stress, work, school, or fights. It gives me a place to vent and to be open with everything. This is a reason I love writing for Odyssey, not only has this place brought me amazing friends but revived my love for writing. I'm never without my notebook anymore, I'd get distracted in class by an idea and have to write I think then and there.

I love sharing my more personal writing with close friends, especially my poems as of late. I found that I have a voice for young women who find themselves in a toxic relationship much like mine was. I want to speak out and show them that you can grow from the bullshit. It may take some time, but you will be better.

Writing saved my sanity. It allows me to express myself without having to use my actual voice. Anyone who knows me, knows I hate public speaking. I tend to psych myself out leading up to it. My current projects include writing for Odyssey every week, I'm in the process of trying to continue my short stories, and I'm excited to announce that I'm currently working on my very first poetry book!

Writing has given me so much, and I'm so looking forward to making a career out of something I love so much.

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