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KrONi

Saturday, February 23, 2008

LeSsOn FroM hiStOrY

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History offers us certain original and indispensable ways of looking at human experience , for it is concerned primarily with time . It brings us perception in depth . It weighs the conflict of the generations and the passing of the years . It contrasts what is or what was with what has gone before . It speaks of the rise of civilizations - and of their decline . So history deals with the flow of things and shows us that nothing ever can stand still . It recognizes that change is inevitable .

History uncovers the complexity of human affairs beneath the vivid myths of folklore or the stereotypes of some national legend . However uncomfortable it may make us , we discover that issues were not all black and white , or one-sided . From history we learn that things are rarely , if ever , as simple as they seem .


History is also a social study . It deals with groups and institutions , politics and economics , wars and the balance of power . With its interest in cause , history contributes to the understanding of social process . By its concern for the past it gives roots to our institutions . We may not totally believe that "those who know no history are doomed to repeat it" . But for our social or political planners , history provides the needed warnings . It reminds us of factors to be taken into account , and suggests possibilities for action . In an international crisis , history will not tell us precisely what to do but rather some things we surely should not do . History reminds us that what we do not know about the traditions and cultures of other peoples has hurt us .


It is no accident that history is one of the major studies in many of our leading universities and colleges . How else are we to civilize our decision-makers ? History can enlarge the horizons of future engineers and industrialists through the understanding of our own tradition and the study of other cultures and times . Through history , we can bring to our citizens and our chosen leaders the experience of other rulers and crises .


Finally , history is a public reservoir from which the layman too can withdraw wisdom . It helps him defend himself against fanatics and revolutionaries , against the narrowness of professional specialization , and against a shallow preoccupation with the latest discovery or novelty . When a man can know about and think about the past , and becomes aware of alternatives , of the mistakes of human planning , of the danger of oversimplification , of the limitation of his opinions or solutions , then he is a freer man . Through history also , he becomes better equipped to understand and contribute to civilization . A people whose history has not been recorded may be happy , but it can be hardly civilized .


Read more on Understand And Criticize , J . Doraisamy , OUP , 1979 ...