Thinking back, the material that stroke me most in this class was the post World War II declaration of equal rights, the sentence we talked about back in unit 1–“All members of the human family“. Strangely, it was not the sentence itself that stroke me, but the divergence of opinions we had during that lecture. The sharp conflict I sensed in that small lecture hall was still kept fresh in my memory, like morning dew on the grass, like the sharp, blade-like shape of the grass.
That was the time when we were trying to discover the true purpose of this declaration; that is, were the people who wrote this down truly looking forward to this equal rights between races and genders? No one knew who wrote this sentence, nor did anyone believe people followed this declaration afterwards–we knew from history that equal rights still has a long way to go, and we are still fighting for it today.
I could still remember that after some random white students expressed their opinion, one girl of minority race sharply pointed out, saying that the original purpose of them was not truly for equal rights. Instead, they wrote this down because they wanted to show that they were empathetic and sympathetic, and they would never actually care the minority people that were not white.
This is what I would put as a trauma–something that will never heal, and nothing in the future can recompense the past’s mistakes.
It was a valuable experience that put me in the front of such inherited trauma. I was no longer an outsider trying to understand; I was a part of it. There was a time when I was randomly put into an almost all-white discussion section for more than two months, and after these two months we reshuffled and I ended up in a very diverse section–great contrast between the two. This contrast allowed me to see more clearly the inherited trauma of certain groups of people, and that’s the trauma you can’t say “you’re requiring too much” to, because it will never heal, and it still burns when you recall it.
That’s why it is extra hard for me to use real, precise words to define the big H Humanities and the lower case h humanities. Both of them are full of conflicts, sharp ones, painful ones.
The upper case Humanities, which stands for this course, is about the conflicts between people, as the one I just recalled above. It’s the place where we create sharp conflicts, then we reconcile and receive new, refreshed results.
The lower case humanities would be more complicated. It’s the trauma we suffered, the empathy and sympathy we share, the improvement we fight for, the kindness we experience everyday, etc…..
That’s my story and my definition. Sometimes looking from a different angle completely changes things. Standing from a higher view point and you will say to those people that “you ask for too much”, and standing from a lower angle you’ll realise that nothing is “too much”, and they are just asking for a minor emotional compensation for their past suffering…