A Sense of History For The Future

Having a sense of the past is essential.

How do we develop a knowledge of the history of our world, our country, and our family? Why would we want to?

I’m going to start by encouraging you to think about the why. If you’ve been someone who during school groaned when the teacher said it’s time for history, let me urge you to stay with me for a bit. I admit that I’m a huge history buff and can “geek out” on this, as the vernacular says, but hold on a minute. Admit to yourself that you may need to hear an argument in favor of learning about the past.

If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday.” – Pearl Buck

The American Historical Association puts our ‘whys’ into categories including: 1)History helps us understand people and societies, 2) History helps us understand change and how the society we live in came to be, 3) contributes to moral understanding, and 4) it provides identity. 1

When we learn about the history of the world or our country, we have a foundation for our identity and we learn that…

*people for thousands of years have made the same mistakes we make today. We get to learn from those mistakes so that we don’t have to repeat them—as a country or as an individual.

*people for thousands of years have been very smart and have made great decisions. We get to learn from those stories too.

*When you learn the examples of failures and successes in people and countries of the past, we see what has worked. Through studying the past, we can understand that our society’s morals and laws are the “guardrails” to keep us safe.

History is the only “laboratory” that we have to see how societies can succeed or fail. King Solomon in the Bible expressed it this way: “there is nothing new under the sun.” (Eccl 1:9)

Our own family has a history that give us a foundation for our identity. I hope you’ve been gifted with stories of your grandparents and even futher into your genealogy. If not, start pestering your family members for them.

As an additional bonus–knowing history makes you a more interesting person to talk to!

Now to the first question—how do we develop this sense of history? Have you noticed that when you go to church, not only are you encouraged to keep your present holy and to look to the future glory of Heaven, but we also are immersed in stories from the past? We can be grateful for these stories of both failures and achievements from the Bible. Stories all the way back to Adam and Eve. Stories of Samuel, David, Daniel and Peter. The Bible gives us a connection with the past and a way to avoid bad decisions and veer towards good choices!

1 https://www.valdosta.edu/history/documents/why-study-history.pdf