In 2010, I started my “Refresh” project, inspired by an article in which the columnist challenged people, in the new year and the new decade, to look at a few things through fresh eyes. The writer listed 52 suggestions, one for every week of the year. I finished most of those but got derailed towards the end of the project. I have just a few more to go and want to see it through. So, this week’s topic is history.
I didn’t do too well in History class in my middle school and high school years. It was the one subject that this A/B student occasionally got a C in. I’m not sure why. I found history interesting, but it was all right and wrong answers — dates and places and people and that required memorization. Memorization itself is not hard. But memorizing so many dates and places and people all at once … they all started to get mixed up. Also, I liked essays better. Maybe that’s why I became a writer. I was better at explaining what happened than just regurgitating data.
And while some history is interesting, some history is just outright boring. I find it much more interesting now, as an adult, than I did then.
Yet boring or not, so much is to be learned from history. That’s is main value. It’s interesting to learn where we came from and what people did before us and how we got to where we are today as a civilization. But history’s worth is in our ability to learn from it, both what to do and what not to do.
I think this applies to all kinds of histories — history of the world and our nation, history in the Bible, our own personal histories (the histories of our families and ourselves), etc.
History, itself, could be one of our greatest teachers if we just take the time to learn from it and to pass on those lessons to next generations. In some ways, history is our future.