On the Topic of History
It is impossible to look to tomorrow – or even see clearly today – without looking at yesterday. It is for this reason that so much time and effort is put into the study and research of history. A clear knowledge – or as close as we can get thereto – is particularly important during crises like those we’re experiencing now.
It is history that will comfort us during the challenges we face. It is there we find examples of people who have endured similar struggles, and arose victorious. We can survey the breadth and width of history, marvel at its vastness, and realize just how short-lived our own difficulties can be in the grand scheme of things. In history, we meet people whose shortcomings and mistakes matched – or even exceeded – our own, and still ultimately triumphed in their lives. Only history can reveal to us what lay just beyond the most desperate of moments. Only in history can we see the other side of the storm, just past the point where all looked bleak and there was no way imaginable to endure. In the now, we never really know how much longer we have to fight. Looking back through history, however, we can see others who have found their relief at times we would never think to expect it.
History is that wise, old friend who catches us with our heads down and our hands in our pockets, and softly guides us through our troubles. It is history that teaches us what to do next, when the answers can be found nowhere else. It is also history that warns us of the outcomes of our mistakes, should we ignore its counsel and continue on in our errors. It tries to protect us, pointing to warning signs we would not otherwise see along the road of progress that we barrel down.
There is no fantasy so fantastic, no treasury volume so replete with magnificent tales as even one era in human history. It is in no single work that contains as much drama and sheer excitement as a look back across the past. The most imaginative constructions of human fiction don’t hold a candle to the real stories written into history. When a novel is penned, a song is sung, a movie is filmed, or a sketch is drawn, it is built upon what history has already done.
History is a teacher, a comforter, an entertainer, a guardian. Without it, we would flip blindly through the pages of life, never knowing what possibilities to expect from the next passage. Without history, we would be orphans, with no knowledge of our identities. We could scarcely know who we are, or even what we are, without finding examples of how to be human in our past. To know history is to be fully human; to be ignorant thereto renders us as part beast, roaming the fields, following nothing but instinct, learning nothing but the short phrases of immediate experience, feeling nothing but bewilderment at every moment this life holds.