As the year comes to an end, students begin to ask more and more critical questions about their classes as they begin the monotonous task of studying for finals: One such question often heard around campus is “Why should I have to learn this? I am never going to use it!” However, this statement seems to be disproportionately associated with history, a class that may actually be more important than any other.
But why? Why is history something that I should be interested in and care about? The simple answer is that history is inescapable. History explores the past, the legacies those in the past made, and those exact legacies in the present day. Far from being memorization, history is a puzzle of all human experiences that portrays our views on the world.
From the native inhabitants of the Eurasian steppes to the ancient Mycenaeans, all people are examples of a “living’ history.”
A prime example is language, as each group communicates in their own language inherited from the past. We all live in societies with their own complex cultures and traditions that are the product of years upon years of successes and failures; they are not created spontaneously. For years, peoples have been interacting with others, using technologies that they themselves have not invented while also mixing ideals from their own separate cultures. Each individual has a chance to influence not only their story, but the ‘living’ history of the world they find themself in.
The famous adage goes, “History repeats itself,” which might have been the first thing to pop into your mind when asked why history matters, but why? Patterns.
As humans, we tend to recognize patterns everywhere in our day to day lives, and history is no exception. From our study of history, we can infer what our actions might cause and how that same decision affected the world in the past. As I mentioned before, the crux of history is this, connecting the days of old to now and the future.
By understanding history we are able to better understand the condition of being human and answer questions such as the following: What causes us to make our decisions? More importantly, why we tend to fall into the same historical paradigmatic traps?
Furthering our understanding of history provides us with integral information that can be used to improve both our own lives and the societies in which we live. We as humans can ultimately learn from the failures and successes of the past in an effort to create a peaceful world in the future.
As the first entry of my monthly series, I felt it was important to discuss the significance of history in the world as a whole and why we as humans are so interested in what has happened in the past. In the future, I will dive into a different recent historical event each month and figure out how it was the result of hundreds of years of history and why it matters to us now. Amid our journey through time, we will find what draws people of all lifestyles to history, plain and simple. We will find that fact is truly stranger than fiction.