Significance of History

Without a doubt, my favorite subject in high school was history. Even today, I find myself getting lost in articles about historical figures and events. However, I’ve never been fully convinced by the adage that “the reason history is important is so that it doesn’t repeat itself.” Obviously, I agree with this statement; however, I would push back on the idea that this is the primary value of learning about history. In 2019, we’re in the midst of an incredibly tumultuous time. The planet is burning up, there’s been an incredibly troubling resurgence in fascism, people seem to think being racist is okay again, and mass shootings are so common they don’t even seem like a big deal anymore. On the other hand, technological innovation is beginning to progress at an exponential rate and members of my generation are mobilizing to fix the countless problems befalling a divided and deeply troubled humanity. When gazing in at the world we currently live in, an understanding of history provides the insight that we’re currently in the midst of history. The ever-moving narrative of humanity has led us to this infinitely significant moment, one that is just as if not more important than the periods that have defined our us. Without an understanding of what led us to this, it’s difficult to comprehend why what’s happening right now matters so much. So, although we should be learning lessons from the past that will prevent suboptimal futures, we also need to learn history to understand that today, the path humanity takes truly matters.

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