Opinion: Why History Matters

As humans continue to go on living and progressing through time, a story is being told. It contains characters from all sorts of diverse backgrounds, locations, and time periods. I am, of course, talking about history. Unfortunately, what I believe should be an important subject that everyone should be interested in, or at least discussed more, is usually a subject seen as boring and irrelevant. So from this, a question emerges: “Why does history matter?”. While history can be boring in some cases, history is essential to the modern world. Almost all of the major world events and happenings can be traced back to an earlier point in history. In other words, history provides insights that answers the questions of how and why we live in the world that we live in.

But despite this, many say that history is continued to be seen as irrelevant. What would happen? Unfortunately, this is the case in a world seemingly run by technology and STEM. According to a poll conducted by the Lincoln Park Strategies for the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, about 1 in 3 American citizens would fail the history portion of the citizenship test with many of them not knowing much about the nation’s founding. Questions I thought were simple and obvious such as naming some of the 13 original states or who America fought against in WWII were commonly missed questions. It also found that the younger the participant was, the more likely they were to do worse.

Apart from the fact that people not knowing what our nation’s founding was all about is just embarrassing to me, it also speaks to a deeper problem. The founding of this nation was when our national ideals were shaped. Of course in practice these ideals were and still are flawed, however these ideals serve as a blueprint of what America as a nation should be and having that history forgotten could very realistically be contributing to the erosion of our national ideals.