Saturday, May 07, 2005

History is Vital

Is history important to us anymore? Victor Davis Hanson thinks not. And this, he says, is an disturbing development. To appreciate what we have and what it will take to make a better future, we absolutely must understand where we’ve been.

And it’s not enough to have a fascination with the trivial. We must study and understand the great events, the great people too. Hanson says:
The history of the pencil, girdle or cartoon offers us less wisdom about events, past and present, than does knowledge of U.S. Grant, the causes of the Great Depression or the miracle of Normandy Beach. A society that cannot distinguish between the critical and the trivial of history predictably will also believe a Scott Peterson merits as much attention as the simultaneous siege of Fallujah, or that a presidential press conference should be pre-empted for Paris Hilton or Donald Trump.

Reverence for those who came before us ensures humility about our own limitations. It restores confidence that far worse crises than our own -- slavery, the great flu epidemic, or World War II -- were endured with far less resources.

By pondering those now dead, we create a certain pact: We, too, will do our part for another generation not yet born to enjoy the same privilege of America, which at such great cost was given to us by others whom we have now all but forgotten.
I think that’s about right.


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