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Does History Have Any Value? Essay

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Updated: Oct 14th, 2021

History can be simply defined as a story on the past that is important or significant and also true. History is an integral part of any society and even if the current generations seem to have turned their back on it, it is natural for people to be curious about their past. People nowadays shy away from their ancestral identities and instead prefer to define themselves with current events and trends. Though history is widely acclaimed, it is not given its due respect and hence not widely read as it should be. People no longer seem to believe that history matters anymore not because of lack of information but as a result of indifference. People nowadays don’t realize the true significance of studying the past and many think it is not a useful endeavor. In my opinion, there is no question about the significance of history in the modern age, history does matter.1

As indicated earlier, history is about the significant events that took place in the past. The keyword here is significant; it cannot be history if it is not significant. This means that history is very important to us and we should strive to preserve it. Perhaps one of the most important roles that history plays is being a natural teacher. History enables us to learn from the past, improve on past experiences, and ultimately avoid past mistakes. Through history, we learn if some actions are right or wrong and we also have an idea of what their consequences might be. Knowing the past equips us with the knowledge of why things happen and why they sometimes don’t. We cannot measure our degree of progress without first designating a starting point. For instance, we know we are in recession today because we are aware of yesterday’s status quo. History itself can reveal to us that there are certain patterns and waves in almost everything that occurs. In a way as much as things change, the more they remain the same. Many contemporary issues that we witness or dominate the media today such as natural calamities, war, and famine are events that have been there throughout history. History also gives one the power or the ability to understand events through comparison. Since one is aware of a certain event in the past that bears resemblance to a present one, then one is well equipped to deal with it better. History enables us to understand the present and the problems we now face and the best way to deal with them. We should not underestimate our history, for instance, if I want to discredit the socialist ideology to a group of people, they would not be convinced by a mere statement. I will be required to go into details and explain to them a chronology of events relevant to my argument. History though does not always serve to teach people not to repeat mistakes or rather people do not always learn from past mistakes. Our hardheadedness sometimes blinds us and we assume that we are more intelligent than our predecessors and so we deliberately repeat their mistakes. It is not history’s fault that we don’t learn from it but our own.2

What would a world without ‘history’ be like? By this, I mean what if a whole generation did not have a clue of what happened before their time? This almost sounds as if they themselves would not be in existence. History is a part and parcel of society and has to be appreciated if the present and the future are something we look forward to and plan to make better.3 History demonstrates the incredible events on how the universe came into existence. Every community has its own version of how people or their people came into existence and even if we may dispute the credibility of those versions, we cannot dispute history’s relevance in their respective communities. History enables people to make informed decisions by learning how past successes and tragedies took place. By learning about inventions and how they were made, modern inventors are better placed in that particular field and can only do better.4

Many people may dispute this but history is a major source of entertainment and pleasure. There are numerous activities related to history that one can engage in and derive leisure as well as satisfaction from. In this way, it serves two purposes by entertaining as well as educating. A young person today reading the biography of Abraham Lincoln would not only be educated and informed but also fascinated and entertained. There is so much to learn about in history and one can never exhaust the numerous material in it. It also moves people towards a better understanding of humankind and their universe and how we can make ourselves and the universe better.

In conclusion, by ignoring history we would be doing so at our own peril. Even if there are counterarguments on its importance, significance, or relevance, they do not warrant complete ignorance of this discipline. Saying has it that “he, who controls his past, controls his future”. To truly comprehend where we are headed as a nation, world, or civilization, we must understand well where we come from. It is not possible to understand the dynamics happening in different parts of the world today without first understanding their roots. The lessons of yesterday are the lessons of today and tomorrow.

Bibliography

  1. Richard J Evans; In Defense of History; W. W. Norton (2000)
  2. Carr, E.H. with a new introduction by Richard J. Evans; What is History? Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001
  3. Scott Gordon and James Gordon Irving, The History and Philosophy of Social Science. Routledge 1991.

Footnotes

  1. Carr, E.H. with a new introduction by Richard J. Evans; What is History?; Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001
  2. Richard J Evans; In Defense of History; W. W. Norton (2000)
  3. Scott Gordon & James Gordon Irving, The History and Philosophy of Social Science. Routledge 1991
  4. Richard J Evans; In Defense of History; W. W. Norton (2000)
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IvyPanda. "Does History Have Any Value?" October 14, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/does-history-have-any-value/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Does History Have Any Value?" October 14, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/does-history-have-any-value/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Does History Have Any Value'. 14 October.

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