Why Does History Matter?
History is one of the most underappreciated subjects included in a modern education. Many students regard history as a useless subject that their school requires for some reason. What’s the point of learning about dead people and what they did, when you can learn about something that will be relevant to the present and the future? New information is always expanding the field of science, and english is constantly being perfected like a diamond being polished. These subjects, vital for future education and careers, are all equally important to learn, and are what continue to push humanity upward and onward. But history… History tells us who we were, where this world that exists today came from. Although many cynics protest that to dwell on the past rather than looking to the future is a waste of time and effort, any historian can tell just the opposite - that history gives humanity identity, wisdom, tradition, technology, and culture.
Before it can be established that history is what gives humanity its identity, the definition of identity must be clear. According to the Cambridge dictionary, identity is ‘who a person is, or the qualities of a person or group that make them different from others.’ Therefore, when regarding to the identity of the human race as a whole, the identity is what makes humans different from those of a similar nature - other animals. About 6 million years ago is when the ancestors of humans first began to walk, leaving their hominid peers behind. At that moment, humans began to form their own identity, and have never stopped. Around 100,000 years ago (estimated), humans had a sophisticated enough brain to begin to communicate with sounds, and languages started to form. Fast forward to the Neolithic Revolution, from 10,000 - 3,000 B.C., and humans began to form civilizations, grow crops, and raise livestock. All the way up until today, members of both ancient and recent civilizations have been creating the identity humans have today through their actions. The creation of a social hierarchy, the advancements of architecture and language, the rise and fall of empires, all shaped humanity’s identity. This identity is what keeps society how advanced it is. Just imagine for a minute what would happen if the teaching of history was neglected, and all that was known would be lost. The entirety of the human race would be like one vast amnesia patient. No one would be know how marvels like the pyramids of Giza or the mysterious Stonehenge came to be, or why. No one would remember the consequences of controversial actions, such as assassinations or invasions, can cause catastrophic wars that can devastate the world. The aftermath of terrifying diseases like the bubonic plague, smallpox, and yellow fever (just to name a few) would be forgotten, and necessary precautions would not be taken to ensure they do not resurface. Without these experiences that created humanity’s identity, the intellectual evolution that has taken so many years to become so advanced would be stunted and possibly halted. The nostalgic, cautious, and ambitious nature of people would be lost forever.
While humans were unknowingly building their identity, they were also building a mental database of causes and effects that were passed down to the next generations to teach them to not make the same mistakes they did, just like parents still do today. There’s a reason that, throughout time, elders always held high-ranking positions in the community - they had been around the longest, and had learned many lessons in all their years that they could teach to the children of their community, so they could have an advantage in their future. These little bits and pieces of wisdom from elders can prevent many mistakes and mishaps from happening. In essence, history does the same thing for the world. In this case, history is the community’s elder, but the community is humanity. History can tell entire countries its past...
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