By placing individuals at the center as both actors in and observers of history, we can build a historical culture around participation. Individuals, after all, experience, interpret, revisit, reinterpret in short, they remember and forget. Nations, cultures, and institutions can’t, even though politicians and pundits pretend they can. Individuals can discover, recognize, ignore, cross-examine, fear, dream, hope…by comparing their experiences and interpretations with those of others, individuals create empathy that permits them to enter into the experiences of people from other times, places, people from other backgrounds…people develop their empathy toward strangers not as political choices or philosophical abstractions but from intimate contacts with people around them.
– David Thelen