30 Days of Gratitude, Day 7: History

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History may seem a strange thing ay to be thankful for, and if I’m not a historian, I do quite enjoy the occasional book, movie, or podcast if it’s well done and provides me with some interesting tidbits of information or insights into the human species that I didn’t have.

The very fact that there are historians, amateur and professional, who somehow keep track of all of human history, or as much of it as we currently know and understand, is a wonderful thing. If my own talents don’t run in that direction, and they don’t, I’m glad someone’s do.

“Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it.” Whether or not I have the quote exactly right, it’s a valid point. And you see evidence of it every day.

We are at a place in history where, barring complete societal collapse or the convenient black hole sucking us into oblivion, it’s pretty much impossible for everything to be lost. There are too many sources, too many copies of documents. That doesn’t mean that any given person actually knows what happened last week, much less a century ago, though I feel like we should all make an effort, at least in broad strokes, to understand our society. If we don’t, we will wind up walking paths we shouldn’t as a society.

There are plenty of examples, including some pretty significant recent ones in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, but for something far closer to us may be in order.

There was a time when the United States could legitimately claim to be the greatest country in the world, questions of Canadian national pride ignored for the moment. But from the vast amounts of American media we’re forced to consume just by living next door, I don’t see that as being the case anymore. And while I’m certainly not arguing who’s at fault, the view I seem to seem to be given is that the nation to the south of us is made up of equal parts crazy and sanity. In any given moment, I’m not sure which is winning. And to me, a lot of the crazy seems to be the people who don’t know anything about their own history and believe their opinions stand equal to facts, no matter how bizarre the claim. But then there are equally crazy folks shouting from the front lines, cherry picking bits of history that seem to support their particular crazy.

I do think sanity will win, but it may take a while.

It’s a cycle, and it will pass, like it has in other places at other times. Until then, I’m grateful for the rational people, and I’m grateful that history remains

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