In Defense of History

Do you like to look at pictures of your family holidays, birthdays, weddings, etc.?

Do you like to talk about experiences you have had?  Trips you have taken?  Games you have won?  Games you have lost? Goals you have achieved?

Do you keep a journal, diary, notebook filled with your daily activities and happenings?

Do you keep a schedule or calendar where you place dentist appointments, dinner plans with friends, trips to be taken, places to go?

Do you hang artwork of your children from magnets on your refrigerator door?  Do you pack away precious examples of their hands in plaster or finger paint?

Did you keep your wedding dress wrapped in tissue paper and vacuum packed to prevent it from yellowing with age?

Does any sentence you’ve ever uttered start with the words…”remember that time we…”?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions – you do not hate nor are you disinterested in history. 

As a former history teacher and one who has spent the majority of her academic career studying history, I cringe whenever someone brushes off this field of study as one of their most hated classes in school.  (Just a class full of dates and timelines, battles and borders, taxes and legislation) 

History is life – every moment that passes moves into the history column of the world.  To say we hate history is akin to saying we hate ourselves.  And for all the self-loathing that occurs in the world, true self-hatred is rare.

History is simply the collection of stories, peoples, places, events and actions that have gone before.  That is not boring – that is not to be dreaded – that is not to be shunned – that is to be celebrated.  You are a part of history, as am I! Our names and the dates of our lives on this planet may never be the stuff of legends and text books, but we live history each day and should therefore relish it.

We’ve all heard the adage – those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.  It is true; however, a different and more positive spin to history should be applied.  Those who forget the past are doomed to miss out on some super excellent story telling!  Pretty sure I need to work on that wording a bit, but you catch my drift. 

Who doesn’t like a good story?  Who doesn’t like to gather around a camp fire and hear about wild mountain men who forged through frozen streams and treacherous terrain to make camp and build a better life for their families?  (Leonard DiCaprio is awfully glad we like hearing those stories, as it got him an Oscar nomination). 

What little kid hasn’t sat on his or her mom’s knee and asked to hear the story of their birth?  What was it like to be a baby?  What did you think when you first saw me?  (This happened to me this morning, so it is still fresh in my mind.)

How treasured are times when as an adult one sits with a family member of advanced age and asks questions about what life was like when that precious older one was in their 20s?

All of these stories, my dear friends, are history.  History is not boring.  History is not just a collection of dates and events.  It is the story of the lives of millions and millions who have gone before; who have walked this planet with desires and motivations (both good and evil); who have had dreams and ambitions to create, build, expand, and do.

So please, say you do not like memorizing dates; say you don’t like timelines or battlefield maneuvers; say you have never heard history shared in a way that inspires you – but please, please, please don’t say you hate history.  Not only does it break my heart; but by saying this you slam the door of your mind shut on stories you can’t even begin to imagine!

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