We need to start documenting major events

Keeping records makes us less prone to repeating events of the past

Image by: Herbert Wang
The news of today will be the events of history.

Everyone can recall key global moments that changed the trajectory of contemporary events.

When we look through the pages of history textbooks, critical events fill the page margin to margin. While these events are documented through both primary and secondary sourcing, it’s high time all individuals document their own perspectives on the world, especially when critical events take place.

On 9/11, my parents were living in New York City. My mother can clearly recall standing on a street corner, looking up at the burning World Trade Center. She can convey in excruciating detail the trauma and emotion of those around her who watched the towers collapse.

Considering the tragic events occurring that day, my mother took the time to process the events of the day, documenting them in a way appropriate to her through photos and short notes.

My dad on the other hand, didn’t document anything on 9/11, and his memory of where he was has become a little bit sparse due to the chaos and stress of the day.

The 24-hour news cycle is vicious, and every day it seems like we’re living through another crisis or another life-defining, world-geopolitics-turning event. Different global events will mean different things to different people.

Living in the West, I have a consistent identity crisis when it comes to conceptualizing which events are truly critical and formative versus those that are just another televised circus.

My family in India will talk about their connections during mass protests about the Emergency Movement in 1975, or they’ll talk about more recent events and mass protests. For me, these events are formative because of my family’s experiences, but I have my own share of defining moments.

The Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection in Washington, D.C. is a moment that sticks out to me as a critical turning point in right-wing movements in North America. It’s a shame to me the only thing I remember is making chicken nuggets that cold January day.

I was watching the news coverage for most of the day, but I didn’t take the time to really digest the world I was living in, and how things would change.

Historical narratives are created and controlled by those living through monumental events, and nuances from these narratives are cultivated specifically by those who leave evidence of how they felt in the moment. Keeping records and creating our own narratives is important in ensuring we don’t become complacent members of society, and continue to think critically about how current events impact us directly.

In modern times, our interconnectedness allows us to empathize, grieve, and show compassion with people around the world. At the same time, many of us are running into the trap of desensitization.

I see it on our very own beloved university campus.

Every so often traumatic events occur, impacting a specific group that is minoritized. As a student body, I feel our short attention span on social issues stems from not fully comprehending and understanding our own positionality with respect to the event. Instead, students react in the moment without critically evaluating the event’s full impact.

From our failure to reflect, we’re bound to see the same events repeat time and again.

Next time something big happens—globally or on campus—take a moment to breathe. Write down how you feel and process the events around you. Who knows, your perspective or documentation might be formative in how you come to understand the world.


9/11, critical event, History, minority, NYC, past, racism

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