Reader Response to Passionate Declarations Chapter 1

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The Status Quo

In Howard Zinn’s book, Passionate Declarations: Essays on War and Justice, Chapter 1 entitled, “Introduction: American Ideology,” begins with a discussion of a few instances in history where groups of people believed that other races and social classes were inferior to others (Zinn 1). The end result of these instances was that many, if not all, of the inferior people were killed (Zinn 1). From these occurrences, Zinn concludes that our thinking does not merely spark debates, but ultimately is a variable of life and death (Zinn 1). He also believes that although we live in a democratic country, the ideas of ethical behavior that were formulated by our forefathers has condemned us to accept them as right, without questioning why they are right (Zinn 3). These ideas were not framed by a group of conspirators, nor were they accidental; these ideas were a result of natural selection in which ideas were encouraged, financed, and pushed forward by those who were in power or by those who had great influence on the general public (Zinn 3). Although these beliefs were written off as correct, Zinn believes that if we decide to reexamine these beliefs, and see that they are not “natural” ideas, we have come to a major turning point: we are examining and confronting American ideology (Zinn 5). These ideas that are expressed in “Introduction: American Ideology,” are very sound because they help me to see why it is important to challenge the status quo. If I sit back and just allow people to feed me information about one fact or another, and I just absorb it all in, then I may not really be formulating my own beliefs, but accepting someone else’s. There should be a deeper meaning to what I believe further than what someone has dictated to me to be correct. I should ask intuitive questions about why someone views something as correct, and by that process, I might begin to clearly see their idea as acceptable. Oftentimes, many people, including myself,...
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