Lessons in History

History is full of tonnes of knowledge, facts and figures. These have survived through the ages in a number of ways. Firstly, there is the written form, where history was recorded in reports, letters, official documents, books, drawings, wall paintings, stone carvings and so much more. Then there is oral history, information spoken to, from one person to another person, from one generation to the next generation, ensuring that the information remains known and not forgotten. Lastly, there are the various relics and artefacts from time immemorial, from huge monuments and structures that stare down at us to tiny fragments of bones and potteries that makes finding needles in the haystack look so much simpler.

Without a doubt, there is so much that can be gleaned from history. Such is the importance and value placed in history, it is taught in schools and higher institutions of learning all over the world. History tells us what happened in the past. We learn from history how an event had unfolded. From history we get to know when the event happened. Through history we find out the various parties and actors, who were involved in the event. History allows us to understand why events occurred as they did.

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A good lesson in history teaches us how, great civilisations and empires emerged, grew, thrived and then died or faded away into oblivion. If observed properly, there aren’t that many great civilisations and empires that have survived the passage of time. All that remains are awe-inspiring buildings and structures as well as memories of the good old times but nothing else survived. Even when those civilisations and empires survived, either in full or in parts, they are nothing but a mere shadow of their former selves.

It is through history that we understand the important decisions made by the various luminaries that have coloured our world. Right decisions that were made at the right moment, which led to a better and glorious tomorrow. Wrong decisions or the lack of a decision that led to disaster for entire cultures and societies.

From history we learn about the great discoveries, which in turn led to even greater discoveries, carrying countries and nations to a whole new level. It is also from history that we learn about the dearth of learning and new discoveries due to inexplicable believes, lack of visionary leadership and much more, which brought about the downfall of what used to be great empires and kingdoms.

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It is history that tells us how colonists travelled across continents and oceans to discover new land, culture and people. It is also history that tells us how the arrival of colonists brought about the downfall of once thriving settlements and societies, who were unprepared for the arrival of the colonists. History tells us how entire people moved from one part of the world to another, either en masse or slowly over time and why this happened. History also tells us how people evolved to stay in a certain place and why this was the case.

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Indeed, there is a treasure trove of information that can be gleaned and more importantly understood from history. Having learned history does not mean that we should live in the past, live in its memory or continue our lives basking in its former glory. On the contrary, history should be a guide to us. Understanding the what, where, when, how and why events unfolded as they did in the past, allows us the benefit of learning and building up on them, bringing us to a whole new level.

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it” – Winston Churchill

We should use the lessons in history to avoid the pitfalls that befell those who came before us. Ignoring these lessons only serves to keep us behind, reminiscing in what could have been. There is no value in becoming a master in history and tales of the past when we are unable to understand the meaning behind it and extrapolate those lessons and knowledge for the life in the world we live today.

We ignore history at our peril. Why not learn from the lessons of the past, apply these lessons in the present and look forward to a brighter tomorrow?

P.S.: The featured image of this post is sourced from Pexels.