WHY STUDY HISTORY?
I watched Benjamin Netanyahu recently being interviewed. He said that as a very young man, already interested in politics and how he could devote his life to serving the interests of the nation of Israel, he asked his father what, to this end, were the three subjects he should prioritize in his study. His father answered: “History, History and History.”
Thee Greek historian Polybius (200 BC-118 BC) said, “The knowledge gained from the study of true history is the best of all educations for practical life, for it is history and history alone which, without involving us in actual danger, will mature our judgment and prepare us to take right views, whatever may be the crisis or posture of affairs.” I think, with the exception of the Bible, (much of which is divinely inspired history) that this is true.
I have been, and continue too be, a lover and student of history since my elementary school days. When our textbooks were passed out at the beginning of the year I devoured them as soon as I could. As one example, I remember, in the fifth grade, taking my history text home and reading it almost completely through before the next morning, finishing it off the next evening. My bachelors and postgraduate university degrees include majors in history, and I have taught it off and on at colleges and university for over 30 years because of my belief in its importance.
I encourage my children and grandchildren, and everyone else I can (especially preachers) to read history. Right now, as history is being rewritten and falsified at warp speed in America and is the main target for disinformation in classrooms, in is more important than ever that people here learn their history. Alexander Solzhenitsyn spoke from the experience of witnessing the takeover of his nation by communists when he wrote, “To destroy a people you must first sever their roots.”
Echoing Solzhenitsyn, Norman Cousins (1915-1990) said, “History is a vast early warning system.” Inn keeping with what both these men said, one of our most respected historians recently urged Americans to obtain as many American history books written prior to 1960 as possible. It’s no accident that these are becoming harder and harder to find.
The German philosopher Georg Hegel famously said, “The only thing that we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.” But this is only true if we let it be true.