Why History Matters

First things first, I won’t pretend I was one of those people who have amazingly turned their life around. I have always loved history to some extent.

Growing up, I chose it as a voluntary subject at school, I always had a Horrible Histories book lying around somewhere and used to buy the latest Dinosaur magazines showcasing a new one of these beasts with every issue.

As the years went by however, it became less of an imperative for me to understand and investigate. What seemed like the ‘current’ world seemed far more interesting.

Taking a practical look at the world today, in most – if not all – fields, things are done and processes are derived based on positive results from past attempts.

For example, a Lawyer may have solid evidence in a case he or she is prosecuting/defending based on a similar occurrence in the past. A Firefighting brigade may institute processes for certain types of buildings based on their experiences in the past with such structures.

Essentially, the past is used as a standard to use and improve upon for the future. Errors may have been made previously, and it is due to them that we have built and improved our processes in all manners of life.

This is exactly why history is so important.

Those who ignore the past and relegate it to ‘out of date’ knowledge that is of no benefit to the real world are the same people who are taken aback by the abruptness of world events, and are vulnerable to believe that the majority of them are happening for the first time.

The reality in most cases, is that events have precedents and future behaviours have foundations in the past. Without understanding such sensitivities we cannot fully comprehend the events that may unfold in the present.

While as a species we have progressed technologically beyond the comprehension of past civilisations, we remain the same people underneath. Strip away the modern marvels of the last 200 years and you will find us a people still vulnerable to emotions, still holding onto events of old and quite often letting them define us.

History is far from irrelevant and we shouldn’t look at the field with rolling eyes, complaining about how boring it is or how irrelevant it is to our lives.

It is only by looking at the past can we have a better understanding of the future, by standing on the stepping stones of the past we may build into a stronger future.

Everything has a history, and history matters.

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