Friday, November 13, 2009

Tempered History

Ask any of my former teachers and they will agree that school and I were on the most straightforward terms with each other: I didn't like school, and school didn't like me. It wasn't so much the teachers (they were great) or small knit of close friends (treasured memories) so much as I don't agree very well with rigid, overbearing, and oft-times rather pointless structure.

School wasn't all bad. There were those subjects I greatly enjoyed year-in and year-out. Unsurprisingly, they were of the more independently minded orientation.

History. Sociology. Psychology.

And so on... It comes as no surprise to me now, years later, that my realized life-long passion is so conveniently packaged in a subject matter as fluid as its content: Beer.

The reason I can't pick and choose my tellie options are no less monopolistic money-mongering than the people who profit from them. But if I could have the same choice with my channels as I do my beer (the freedom to have that choice), the History Channel would be among the top percentile. On the other hand, I do have free reign of books and the internet to surf, peruse, and ponder to my hearts desire the sometimes cloudy history of beer and its relation to humankind and Life on Earth.

Knowledge is power, so my teachers used to say, and in continuing my absorption of all things beery, a conundrum has arise: Where was this facet of human history throughout my 13+ years of fine outstanding American education?

Don't mind the sarcasm. It's 100% natural.

I can't speak for other countries because, well, I don't live there. But in regards to America, that's a large chunk of our history, our culture, our social makeup, psychology, economics, politics, religion, etc... that was "accidentally" forgotten in the pages of all the official textbooks I had to read.

For history's sake, let's ponder a few of those fascinating tidbits our textbooks "forgot":
  • The Mayflower landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts because it was running dangerously low on victuals, most alarming of which was beer.
  • Our founding fathers were avid and advantageous beer drinkers, homebrewers, and some of the first beer merchants of New World record.
  • The Egyptians built their kingdom on, around, and with the vital role of beer. Beer was, life, bread, pleasure, and money. The pyramids were quite literally built on the back of beer. To this day, they remain the biggest drinkers of beer in terms of volume per person.
  • Across cultural borders and time, brewing was often the duty and responsibility of women. Not man, woman. Possibly not as glorious as it sounds, but still a position of power, wealth, independence, and status that was to be had nowhere else in their life.

The facts are as endless, storied, and fluid as the various fascinating facets of history they created. So why has America (I am American after all) tempered their own rich history, much less the rest of the world?

Temperance? Fear of moral, social, spiritual, and physical corruption? Control? Insecurity? Misguided intentions? Money?

Quite realistically all the above and even more than I can think of at the moment. But think I shall because, if one thing, thinking outside the box has been one arena in which I have always excelled.

My current conclusion?

I have grown up in an environment of tempered history, one that still perpetuates to this day and has to varying degrees throughout history. I can't speak for generations past, but I wonder... when the natural world of beer (and drink) we so pointlessly try to avoid, hide from, paint over, or desperately ignore catches up to us, what then?

I know where I will be: front and center, glass in hand, embracing the freedom of life, living, and beer in all her mashed, fermented, and conditioned glory. Not out of ignorance or excess, but because knowledge is power and beer is beautiful.

(an original written work by Kristyn Lier. plagiarism is not tolerated)

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