Dear Old Phart,
My college roommate and I were engaged in a late night discussion on whether history is important. He argued it was and used the old bromide that “those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.” I countered that in this age of “fake facts” and instantaneous communication, words are not worth the paper they used to be written on.
What say you?
Yes We Were Stoned
Dear Yes We Were Stoned,
The short answer to your question is that history is important to history teachers but history teachers do not make history. Neither do history majors– unless they get a job in a field other than their major.
History is only important in a social darwinistic sense; that is, you do something based on what others have done or not done (history) that changes how both you and others act or react (making history).
For instance, let’s say you are not as smart as a history major but you inherit a large sum of money.
With this money you make investments and based upon your family legacy, people and banks give you more money. Over time people believe that you have a history of successful investment so they start to throw ever larger sums of money at you.
Then you convince people that not only are you smarter than a history major, but you are smarter than those who write the first draft of history–journalists.
When you convince all these people how smart you are, even though you’re not, then you can become President of the United States. Now that’s making history!
And that’s why you now find yourself living in the Stoned Age.