History is a gift

Learning through your own mistakes is a vital way to survive; but learning through the mistakes of others is surely a way to go beyond survival and even to thrive. The reason for mankind’s success is manifold but surely one of the reasons we succeed is the ability to accumulate knowledge and that includes accumulating our learnings from mistakes, the ones that we didn’t make ourselves, and to be able to learn things beyond what other organisms can learn within a single lifetime.

Cultural artefacts, language, writing, all kinds of interesting designs and format of things are each a scaffold for us to scale above our limitations. And to that end, history is a gift to us because it is the sure way to learn from the mistakes of others, the experiences before us that we may never in our lifetimes get to encounter. They are all there! Recorded for us. Granted, there may be some biases in storytelling and I’m not here to champion ‘herstory’ over ‘history’. It is history as a concept that has so much value that we overlook.

Just because things keep on changing doesn’t mean that that what was experienced in the past is irrelevant. It just means there’s a bigger picture and a lot of creativity needed to interpret the implications of history for our lives today. But history is still relevant and it is a gift to us. Imagine being able to acquire experience without going through things; or getting a certificate without going through a degree. That’s how we should start looking at history. It’s a gift, and a waste not to learn it.