History isn’t just a bunch of dates and old dead people — it’s the story of us. History tells the story of human existence and how it reached across time and space. It carries all the secrets of who we are, where we come from, how we have changed and why those changes were necessary. With an increasingly globally connected world, lessons from history are pivotal to our survival.
History is the best teacher, and you don’t have to be in class to learn from it. Our society devalues history due to its lack of practical application and economic importance, but history can be a source of unlimited information. It tells us about the first interactions between humans, the creation of society and the foundation of arts and sciences. Through history, we can further understand things such as religion, politics and global relations.
Historical information and events — whether good or bad — show us how the present world came to be. A brief understanding of world history can provide a timeline that shows clear causes and effects, which leads to a more well-rounded understanding of people, cultures and world issues.
Ignoring history can also be very dangerous. Society has seen time and again that if we don’t heed its warning, history will repeat itself. An example of this that is relevant in today’s political landscape is antisemitism. Throughout much of recorded history, Jewish populations have been the target of hatred and discrimination.
During the 1300s, Jewish people were blamed for the spread of the Black Plague in Europe. As a result, they were denied citizenship and other civil liberties throughout the middle ages. When the Holocaust and Nazi movements spread across Europe in the 1930’s, anti-Semitism became prevalent once again. Today, anti-Semitic hate crimes have risen, with an increased visibility of Neo-Nazis and Alt-Right groups.
Having a historical knowledge base can help our future. Our understanding of different periods of history can show us the impact of past event and mistakes we can avoid repeating.
We have learned the brutal cost of war on society. We have seen how new scientific techniques can lead to mass societal shifts in behaviors and attitudes as seen during the Enlightenment Period. History shows us the results of certain policies and the negative impact of different world structures, such as colonialism. History can show us the error of our ways, as in the case of slavery in America.
Human history is full of things to be grateful for and proud of. We have come a long way and accomplished great things, but we have also made massive mistakes and caused immense and incalculable amounts of pain and injustice. We can right these wrongs, own up to them and make sure we never repeat the darkest parts of our past.
Alyssa majors in urban studies and community development. She is interested in and concerned about issues in Tacoma that impact the community. She is obsessed with all things chocolate and piggies.