Making it to history
It’s both artless and juvenile to boil down the learning of history to merely remembering the dates of events. Rather, one’s focus should be on the importance and value those events hold, writes Tejasvini Akhawat
Winston Churchill once said, “Study history; it is in History that all the secrets of statecraft lie.” As problematic as some of his other statements were, he was right in identifying and underlying the value of history in running a state. Without knowing the past, one cannot take a substantial leap into the future and even if he does, it would be like a tree without roots. History is the foundation for any discussion on global/domestic affairs and carves a niche for further opinions and arguments. When the word history is heard, what does one think of? It can range from the activities of pre-historic humans to things that took place yesterday. It includes ancient and medieval civilisations, empire building and colonisation, formation of nation-states, struggle for independence, timelines of political parties, etc.
Every day spent and gone is a part of history. History is an integral part of human life evolution and cannot be undermined even if one wants to. What’s been done in the past stays in the past and cannot be retrieved. History, thus, is the rightful scale that accurately presents the evolution of human behaviour and modern societies and accentuates its own usefulness.
It is both artless and juvenile to boil down the learning of history to merely remembering the dates of events. Rather, one’s focus should be on the importance and value that those events hold. The derivations from these historical phenomena should be manoeuvred for the larger good of society, state and humankind. The enquiry shouldn’t stop at the when and where of an event. Knowing the what, why, who and how of the occurrences helps one in analysing a situation and learning from the past. They say history repeats itself. This is quite likely because of the fallible conditions that are concocted and the human reactions or thought processes that primarily remain similar even by the changing times. Nevertheless, what is provided is an opportunity to change both the negative factors associated with the repeated incidents and the uncalled responses that can be corrected. The phrase should be taken in a positive spirit that while the circle has come full, time has given us another chance to rectify the mistakes or adhere to meritorious decisions that were taken.
With globalisation have come its cons that cannot be ignored. The notion of going beyond boundaries may have given birth to the conflicts related to boundaries itself. Historical ideals of sovereignty, homeland, and liberation have taken new shape and become more prominent than ever in today’s times. The varied responses by governments or states revolving around these concepts have resulted into misinterpretation and multiple interpretations leading to utter confusion and instability in international relations. Herein, studying history becomes crucial to detangle the associated scepticism, providing a vivid picture of the past and trying to make the present compatible with it. History certainly has many dimensions added to it and to understand the complexities related to each can be challenging. Truly, the exegesis of history varies primarily because the people who witnessed them are mostly not living. However, the factual incidence remains the same and the interpretation that coincides with eternal verities is put higher on the priority ladder.
Morally, too, the expositions matter. Maybe, the circumstances and behaviours have changed over time but the human moral fabric is sacrosanct and inviolable. It cannot be ruptured at any point whence dealing with national or international issues. Ironically, history provides us with the luxury of time to introspect and retrospect situations and behaviour to avoid making same errors. Flagging the wrong decisions and realising the faults is itself half victory on the trail of human errs.
The examination of any subject worthy of contemplation, on the basis of History, was and will never be archaic. Contemporary history — as oxymoronic this term may sound, is of crucial importance if policies of national and international interest are to be formed and made functional. History helps in envisaging global and domestic issues that have gained momentum in the 21st Century with a bird’s eye view by connecting the past phenomena to the present scenario and to the possible discourse it may take in the future. The need of the hour is to address the sensitive issues such as terrorism, climate change, proliferation of nuclear weapons, maritime affairs, hunger and poverty among several others, with a historical background in perspective.
Responding to these challenges with the use of contemporary history will lead to feasibility in policy making and nation building. Moreover, it will carve the path to understand, study and analyse scenarios in retrospect and henceforth. History is, thus, a valuable reserve that can be visited at any point of time to tackle the ongoing state of affairs. It speaks volumes in its reticence.
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