“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” ~George Orwell
History not only provides identity and a lens through which we learn from the mistakes of others, but the harrowing stories of humanity’s past remind us to not neglect our values. By teaching our children to connect with history, we may prevent disastrous consequences and events from reoccurring. The more we acknowledge the past, the better prepared we’ll be for the future. By retrieving history, we’ll thoroughly understand the noble obligation of building a legacy for the generations that replace us.
It’s dangerous to selectively appropriate stories that suit our own purpose and bias. Only through our genuine acknowledgment and interest in every angle of history do we truly understand it. Many western countries that formerly ascribed to a moral code of conduct, and held their leaders to such standards, are now showing disturbing signs of neglect for values that were once sacred to how they served. Politically we’ve abandoned the art of respect and compromise, and destructive speech has replaced allying dialogue. Also, political gamesmanship has grown entirely fixated on harmful readiness to favor the present over the future. The prioritized consumption of pleasure and hoarding of wealth have devoured the cries of poverty, compassion, and equality.
Every generation and power who ignored such cries found themselves submerged in chaos. History tells a sad tale of such horrors, such greed, such devastation, and such deafness that must never be replicated. Yet we now find ourselves forgetting our moral obligations to our children, our children’s children, and who we once were. Our leaders of yesterday were held accountable when expectations of trust were broken. We selected our leaders based on their being honest and reliable beacons of hope for not just ourselves but our children.
I urge us all to not forget the past. The future will only be as bright as the choices we make today. We are tomorrow’s only hope to ensure a world where tolerance, respect, equality, and kindness are once again considered admirable strengths to lead by. Our communal identity and informed patriotism stem from a shared understanding of our stories, and why we’re united by a love greater than devotion to call these lands our home. If we stand any chance at resolving our society’s pressing issues, we need to begin at the source of the problem: we need to know history.
Photograph source: https://www.loc.gov/resource/ggbain.12397/