Miguel de Unamuno, the Spanish poet, claimed each country has two histories its outer-history (wars, politics, economics) and its inner-history (family relationships, community rituals). Schools especially higher education have long taught the first. But now, more and more, universities are looking at the latter. LDS author Laurel Thatcher Ulrich won a Pulitzer Prize for detailing the day-to-day trials and triumphs of a 19th century midwife.
Now, the University of Utah has been looking "inward" as well. The school's College of Law and Gender Studies Program has invited people from the community to share five-minute monologues relating to their own family history, intimacies, kinships and bonding. A panel will select the monologues that expand understanding of such things. Race, parenting, marriage and divorce are themes with a high degree of interest.
The hope is that the experience of everyday people will help young lawyers and others see the practice of "family law" with more insight and in a broader context.
We see it as first-rate endeavor that will, undoubtedly, provide not only vital information for the legal profession, but will help preserve many real-life moments that would be blown away by time.
Traditionally, those who look at history have seen the over-arching struggles and movements as the "important" elements. But others are starting to realize that the smaller stories are the true "connecting tissue" that hold communities, countries and even civilizations together. No army can succeed without supply lines of food and medicine. No culture can move ahead without the thousands of little relationships and alliances that give it strength, purpose and meaning.
We offer a tip of the hat to the University of Utah for its willingness to explore the "brave new world" of inner-history. In time, perhaps other disciplines will also realize that because a relationship is small doesn't mean it is insignificant. As the maxim has it, a few drops of water when frozen can split a boulder. A few monologues about family life also will crack open new ways of seeing, appreciating and applying the law.