Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Historian’s Mind

History, like love, is so apt to surround her heroes with an atmosphere of imaginary brightness.
― James Fenimore Cooper

 The study of history is important because history repeats itself; therefore, we can discover the pattern of the future by studying the past. People repeat history, not the other way around... and that is why we need to learn about our history as a species... all the way back...

History provides the life lessons even if you do not experience by yourself. Since we can record our history, it is much easier for us to learn from the past without experiencing it by self. We study history all the time. It is the basic nature of who we are. It is not just Humans who study history or past experiences; every single life form, consciously or instinctively, studies the past, its experiences. And it’s the nature of evolution. That is the only way we learn, improve, adapt and evolve. 

One can always see farther when standing on the shoulders of others. If we do not accept our choices and mistakes in the past, we can never really move forward. Looking at history needs to come from a genuine respect for difference and we must see the entire picture for the good and bad reality. Many versions of history can all be simultaneously "true". The point of view and the personal biases of the teller of "his/her story" will always factor into it.

It takes critical thinking to learn history objectively. Since there is no absolute truth, it is all the more important thing that people learn to develop their critical faculties when studying history, weighing up evidence and the prejudices of each writer or witness to historical events. Such critical thinking is extremely important in today's world of abundant media, where the emotions of any events can be whipped up by the media within a few days. Listen to the different voices and gain the variety of perspectives before rushing up to make any conclusions.  

"Past performance doesn't assure future success." A health way of presenting history is to give young people many points of view and allowing them to make up their own minds. The contemporary society is the product of the past. So to understand it, you need to know the facts and more important the underlying patterns. Or we can study other cultures today to stretch our minds and views of ourselves. Independent thinking and critical thinking are critical to learn history, without setting limit to one version of truth; and transform hindsight to insight and even foresight to guide through the future journey more confidently.


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