Why History?

I am pretty sure that on a sweaty school day one might have flipped through the pages of their history books glancing over excruciating and unnecessary details about Mesopotamian Civilization and wondered “What’s the freaking meaning of this mumbo jumbo that is being shoved down my throat?” Here is the answer.
A person who does not history is often doomed to repeat it; Image Source- Escape Boats

A person who does not history is often doomed to repeat it; Image Source- Escape Boats

I view history as one of those unpleasant things that you abhor in the beginning but are grateful in retrospect. A vaccine injection is never a pleasant experience for a child mostly because the child does not know what it wants and I need to elaborate on the many benefits of vaccine standing in current times.

In this respect, history and historical consciousness is that very pertinent injection that must be instilled and pricked into societies and individuals to make them understand who they are and how they fit into the macrocosm of things.

History thus can be tied closely to one’s identity. It helps you understand who you are, where you come from and most probably helps you demystify where you might be headed in the future.

History is the stuff that builds and breaks characters, institutions, society and nation. It is the bridge that builds alliances and breaks out war. It is the very key to our character.

Thus, the past or history is never stagnant, it’s the most dynamic thing out there which is constantly evolving with new sources, viewpoints and technology. The past is all-pervasive and it flows through us through beliefs, cultures and practice. In this way, we feed on the past just like the past feeds on us.

EH Carr, a person who is read by undergraduate students in their first class beautifully summarizes this, he says - “The past is intelligible to us only in the light of the present, and we can fully understand the present only in the light of the past.” He further says that history is needed “To enable man to understand the society of the past and to increase his mastery over the society of the present.

History is also filled with good ideas and God knows the world needs some of them right now. History is similarly filled with blunders of catastrophic proportions which are there for us to learn from, that’s the place from which we take “historical precedence” in the simplest decisions to the most complicated policy sanctions. Thus, history is never found in isolation it always speaks and at times shouts to us.

These are, according to me the utilitarian needs of history. Thus, when history is such an important variable in your everyday life do we just let it remain in the hands of a few academics, a few books and a few research papers with the most complicated jargon embedded in them? Never.

History should be of the people, for the people and by the people. There is an urgent need to democratize history and its merits from a few chairs at an education department to the masses. The common man or woman should have an equal say in what his/her history is and much work has been done on recovering age-old forgotten oral traditions.

Weaving, thinking and conveying chunks of history via platforms such as this one is one of the many ways to reach out to the masses and make them a part of the process of weaving tales. Those who do not know where they have come from often have no idea about where they are headed off to.


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