It’s a question not too many of ask, but it is so important. Do you ever wonder why you are where you find yourself right now? The answer is often intertwined with world events. Our personal histories are one in the same with world history, which is why the study of history is so interesting. When we learn about world history it is not some disconnected fairy tale, it is often our very own story. Think about it, I don’t mean it in the existential sense, but literally, why are you here? What brought you to be where you find yourself today? Not too many of us can claim that we’ve been Americans for generations (or any nationality, for that matter). The history of the world is the story of the movement of people. And the movement of people is the story of war, famine, religion, conquest, exploration and so on. Often times it is catastrophe that leads people to where they are now.
As an American Jew, the answer to this question is pretty simple for me: I’m in America simply because Jews were kicked out of every other place we lived. My family came here in the late 1800s, early 1900s, coinciding with the rise of anti-semitism in Eastern Europe, particularly the pogroms of Russia. As a Jew I am fortunate that I have a written account of my history through the Bible, which tells of the multiple diaspora of Jews from the Middle East. If I’m to believe the Bible, then the farthest back I can trace my ancestry is to Mesopotamia. The Roman and Babylonia diasporas led Jews to flee to Eastern Europe, which at that time was accepting of Jews. They lived there for centuries enduring various expulsions, until the Russian pogroms led my family to move to America, which by the end of the 19th century was of course very open to immigration and was the best option for minority groups.
Why I landed in New York is fairly simple, it was the first stop for immigrants and offered the most comforts of home and job opportunities. Now I live in California and I wonder how and why most of the people here are here. What percentage came for the gold rush and where were they before then?
Crazy to think that I am where I am and you are where you are because of world events, because of the actions and policies of specific people or groups of people. Those events seem so long ago and so disconnected from who we are, but it affects your life to this day. Your whole life is based on the events of the past. It isn’t something that has nothing to do with you. It’s your life, it’s your history. No one just appeared one day, we all have ancestors, we all are related to people throughout history. None of us are unaffected by the events of the past. So, why are you here?