We have been doing a bunch of ‘historic’ lately, well in this century. Really it just means significant or important. I find the word historic to be used in a hyperbolic sense, exaggerated, over-the-top. And I wonder if we do that because we don’t really know what is significant or what should be exaggerated. For example, it seems that if you like the current president you refer to him and his family in superlatives–the greatest, the grandest, the best of the best. And they may well be. Truly though, does everyone who says this know this personally?
I find this tendency to hyperbole sad. It is ruining the English language. We become inured to when the word is important.
Today we celebrate the historic while it is going on. Politicians write books before they are even in office. Celebrities write memoirs at the beginning of their career. An ad on the Tiffany website recently touted the classic styling and taste of Elle Fanning…the kid hasn’t’ even hit her twenties!
No wonder we are a bit over the top about the 2016 election. We have no perspective. We know today that what we wrote about World War II and Russia, about the McCarthy time and about J. Edgar Hoover during their lifetime and immediately thereafter was incomplete, in some cases wrong. We need the advantage of time; time for archives to be opened, time for people to understand the event in it’s time and place. Mostly for the time to see what that person’s action wrought. Yeah. I want a result before I give an A.
Maybe a test of historic would be how long a person or event is remembered. We all remember 9/11, but that was this century. Those of us old enough remember 11/22/63, or maybe 5/4/70 or 8/4/74 or 4/30/75. Depending on your interests you remember clearly 2013 in relation to the Boston Red Sox. All of us celebrate July 4, 1776 but that declaration was not signed until August 2, 1776. Yes, there were some firsts this year; first woman to run for president, first non-politician to win the presidency. They are significant, but how do they mesh with our understanding of our country, of the world. Are they historic? What have they wrought? And if you think that you know just because of campaign rhetoric, well, you really need to wait awhile. Will there be more women candidates? What will they be like? Where will they come from? Will politics now shift to those who have experience in one aspect and are able to apply it to politics? Is that a good thing? A bad thing?
I personally am not a fan of the Camelot myth of JFK, and I think, that like Martin Luther King, we may never know what Kennedy would have become had he aged, what he would have supported, how he would have used his talent and energy. We can speculate, even those who knew him well could, but that is all that it is, speculation.
You want historic? Think about the impact of one who died on 9/17/61. Why? Because of what he actually did, DID! Consider that around the globe there are massive numbers of people engaged with a formidable furor working to maintain the legacy left by this one man. A man that President Kennedy referred to as ‘the greatest statesman of the twentieth century‘. Now he is a significant person everyone should know. Do you?