Thoughts On: History


I’m starting to feel like there’s a small correlation between my posts, which is probably down to my thought processes tending to focus on one field for a while… Well, anyways, I’d like to talk about history this time. history is a topic I’ve been interested in since I was a child; most of it started off with history movies and games, so I tended to enjoy the aspects of war like most boys my age did. However, growing up I began to explore the larger scope of history, and how we came to know about all the things we understand today. In intermediate school I’d have this book that I’d always read (even during lessons) – I can’t even remember it’s name, but it was a fantastic book that covered much on the ancient world: from Mesopotamia to Rome. I think it was this book that sparked my desire to learn more about history, and to turn it from a fleeting curiosity to a serious interest.

I think history is an important subject, and some would disagree with that. I’ve always heard the classic line, why should I care about something that’s happened in the past? And with that comes the classic those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. But it goes beyond learning the subject as a warning for future mistakes, it’s also a way for people utilise the past in order to make a better future. Think of all the most pressing subjects in our world today: all of these have a rich historical foundation and development, that – through their history – we come to acknowledge and develop upon. Science, for example, is arguably the driving force of the twenty-first century: figures like Archimedes and Hakim Ibn-e-Sina who are responsible for some of antiquity’s greatest innovations, how would we have been able to develop upon these concepts had we not known about them in the first place? There’s the idea that eventually someone elsewhere would rediscover the idea themselves further down the line, but to be caught in an endless cycle of rediscovery in pursuit for innovation, it just seems silly.

Alongside knowing about the past in order to prepare for the future, history also provides the ability for one to deal with the present. Nearly all the foundations of government, economics and religion can be traced to a historical root, which means any problem arising in the present most likely stems from similar problems that had risen in the past. This is one of the reasons world history has taken a precedent over the former Eurocentric teachings, as our contemporary world begins to experience a globalisation of sorts, and with this comes the benefits and problems from all parts of the globe. Nearly all pressing issues taking place within the world today are all traced back to historical moments and events: the Middle Eastern conflicts; North Korea; Russia and the West, it’s all part of an intricate web of information already available at our fingertips.

People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them. – James Arthur Baldwin

I know that to others, history just feels like a farce agreed upon by the academics, as it’s almost always changing with every new revision or reflection. The events you thought you knew so well twenty years ago turn out to be mostly false, or the revisions you’ve come to acquaint yourself with turn out not to hold a candle to the original work. But this is something I think is an important development, as – like science – those that work tirelessly to seek out truth are helping to further our understanding of the world we live in. And that to me is as useful a subject as you can get.