Sabbath Monday: History

Civil War cannon at Fort Sumter (Charleston, South Carolina)

Civil War cannon at Fort Sumter (Charleston, South Carolina)

Ever since I was a child I have had a thing for history.

I remember a family vacation to Springfield, Illinois and going into Abraham Lincoln’s law office and home and being in awe. Lincoln stood here! On these very planks of wood!

Before the History Channel was all about digging up old artifacts and pawning stuff, I would watch shows about the presidents, World War 2 and other pieces of history. I excelled in history classes throughout school. In college I began in education, hoping to be a teacher. Later I realized I loved history, so I ditched teaching and got a degree in history. To this day I have mountains of history books, mostly focused on World War 2 and the American Civil War.

I love history because it teaches. Pure and simple. It teaches us that the atomic bomb is bad, though I think one of our current presidential candidates needs reminding of this. History teaches us that all people are equal, despite worshipping differently or having a darker skin color. History allows us to learn from mistakes. A child won’t touch a hot stove again after they have been burned, will they? Because of history humanity has made advances in science, medicine, and technology. As life moves forward, humans evolve and adapt to new times, carrying the past with us, learning and evolving as we go.

Sadly, there is much from history that us humans are still in the process of learning about.

I often feel we humans forget or glance over something. Years of wars have taught us that war is awful and yet into another conflict with go. Granted it’s usually (emphasis on usually) for a good reason but that doesn’t make it right. Then again, I’m a pacifist. Years after slavery was abolished, after the Civil Rights movement, after years and years of struggle for equality, here we stand…Still unequal. Men, women, gays, straight, transgender, Muslim, Jew, Christian, and so on and so on. The people and categories for equality may have changed but the quest for human equality hasn’t. Even though men like Hitler, Stalin and Hussein were defeated, there are still men (and dare I say it possibly women) who think they can rule the world as a tyrant, spewing evil and hate. And yet people flock to hear them, chant their names and want them in elected positions.

Has history taught us nothing?

Can humanity learn from the past or are we doomed to repeat the same mistakes?




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