History is often stereotyped as the most boring class that everyone falls asleep in. This is truly a shame, considering how, in reality, history is anything but boring! To me, history is an ongoing series of epic stories and characters interwoven together; there are everyday underdogs doing the extraordinary, villains that we love to hate on, and different groups uniting to fight injustice. History permeates our culture, values, and identities. It’s reflected in our families, the politicians we appoint, and the way we speak. Here are 4 reasons why we should all appreciate history more.
- You can better understand the meaning behind art and music. Sure, you know that Monet paintings are super pretty, but what is the history behind impressionism? Why did a surge in nationalism drive artists to paint landscapes after the War of 1812? Tons of music from The Sixties was written in protest of the Vietnam War. By understanding the cultural and historical context behind various art forms, you not only become a more informed consumer, but you can also appreciate it more.
- Historical knowledge leads to more open-minded perspectives on current events. Have you noticed that many of your history teachers are very well-articulated when it comes to political and social issues? This is because they comprehend the broader themes regarding issues various minority groups faced throughout history. Bigots who ostracize racial minorities, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and disabled people are ignorant of the gravity of oppression these groups have faced throughout history. For example, those who argue that Asian-Americans are a model minority are probably unaware of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the Japanese internment camps during World War 2. These systemic discriminations trickle down to micro-aggressions that the Asian-American community continues to face today.
- History is omnipresent! I was amazed when my history teacher informed us that many of the buildings in our town, buildings that I’ve passed by everyday for years and thought nothing much of, were built by teenagers during the Great Depression as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal Programs. Your favorite ethnic food places in Chinatown and Little Italy were once makeshift living room restaurants in immigrant neighborhoods. It is amazing to think of how our stories were prefaced by a plethora of lives that were intertwined by pure chance.
- History repeats itself. With so much uncertainty regarding the future, it amazes me how people continue to neglect the one thing we know for certain: the past. We need to take advantage of the fact that there are still survivors of major world events from the 20th century. We should talk to them, ask them questions, and aim to better understand their perspective on our volatile modern society. This survivor of the Holocaust condemned Donald Trump’s immigration policies. Such a warning sign serves as a reminder for us all to avoid dangerous here-and-now tunnel vision and learn more about the past in order to better understand the future.