Image of old human skeleton by Boris Hamer

Wikipedia defines it as "History (derived from Ancient Greek ἱστορία (historía) 'inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation') is the systematic study and documentation of the human past."

I understand that. I understand that it is the study of the past. What I question is the purpose of that study. Simply put, does history help me become a better person? It can do that, I suppose, if I can learn the lessons the past can teach me.

The amount of knowledge available in the world about the past is enormous. Check out any library. There are tomes written on every conceivable aspect of what human beings have done in the past, but the lessons are never learnt.

 Why do I say that? Well, the most obvious clue is the current state of world affairs. We have always discovered that war is shit. Its advantages are vastly overshadowed by the disadvantages. The endless destruction, the many lives wasted, the pain and agony of those deaths and the survivors. Not once have humans stopped that behaviour. Incited by greed and fear, we mark boundaries and claim ownership of bits of earth. Earth, which is our individual temporary abode and knows no boundaries. Yet we kill to defend the bit of ground to which we will eventually be returned to when dead. 

We haven't even learnt that we are individuals yet! Instead, we try and force people into moulds with our rules and regulations, although clearly they don't fit, as there are always exceptions which don't fit. We could be proud of being a unique individual and rejoice in the uniqueness of each person, but instead we compare ourselves to someone we consider to be better than we are. There is no one better than us. That is the definition of uniqueness. But we compare and judge and so conclude that there are those are superior or inferior to ourselves. So incredibly obtuse and stupid. And then we have to prove it, by putting others down.

We may learn something about technology from the past, but about behaviour and living together on one planet, we have learnt nothing at all. Hence, my contention that history is a meaningless subject to spend time on, as we don't apply the lessons it can and should be teaching us.

Classic example: in 1947 the British and American governments decided that it would be a good idea to give those Jews who wanted it, a country of their own, to hold and to have. It was just unfortunate, that the land chosen was already being lived in by many who called themselves Palestinians. No problem: these governments gave them enough arms and ammunition to kill tens of thousands and drive the rest away, so that the land can be occupied by the Jews, largely from Eastern Europe. Like the rest of us, the Palestinians are not happy at being slaughtered and driven from their homes. So they fight back. Inevitable. The history of colonisation shows how those with the bigger weapons can do what they want and that the indigenous people have to take it or lump it. Palestine and Israel are no different.

I would recommend that history be scrapped as a subject for study, as it demonstrates on an almost daily basis that human beings are not capable of learning any lessons from it. Our "glorious" past is completely inglorious. Let's not pretend otherwise.

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