What Is The Importance of History?
We live in the present but it seems that the only thing that really concerns us is the future. That being the case, what is the point of bothering to study our past? We understand by history that science whose object of study is the past of human societies. History is considered to be one of the humanistic sciences that has given the human being more use not only to know the cultural heritage of the different civilizations that have gone through history but also to allow him to build his own identity, searching and taking data from past times that make it easier for you to develop your own idiosyncrasies.
For many, history has a fundamental role as a set of knowledge, legacies, complex historical realities of the human being throughout time and through the regions. Knowing not only our own history but also the history of other civilizations, cultures and societies (no matter how distant they may be) contributes to our growth as people capable of knowing, understanding, rationalizing information and taking those data to continue building day by day a new reality.
Historians do not discover the cure of deadly diseases, or improve the design of cities, or arrest criminals. In our society, people expect that education has a useful purpose as it happens with medicine or engineering, but not with history whose functions are apparently more difficult to define, since the results presented are not tangible and sometimes less immediate than those that are derived from other disciplines.
So, why study history?
To carry out any historical study it is necessary to carry out research or analysis of different types of material: written documents, works already published on various subjects, photos or images, works of art, songs or folk tales, etc. All these elements allow us to build various historical aspects of a society such as daily life, the type of clothing, food, traditions, economic activities, cultural heritage of that society, historical events that happened at a certain time and the result that they had in shaping that society, etc.
History must be studied because it is essential for individuals and for society. There are many ways to discuss the functions of this field of study, as it can be interpreted in various ways, the usefulness of the story, however, is based on two fundamental facts:
1. Help to understand people and society
All human beings are living stories. To mention some examples that may seem obvious: we use technologies that we do not invent ourselves and we speak languages that are inherited from the past; We live in societies with complex cultures, traditions and religions that have not been created at the time.
The study of the past is essential to place people in time; We need to know where we come from, to know where we are going. Knowing the history is essential to understand the condition of the human being, this allows you to build, move forward and if necessary change. None of these options can be undertaken without understanding the context and starting points. We live in the here and now but there is a long story behind that developed to be what we are TODAY.
2. History helps us to understand the world in which we live
A look at what happened in the past gives us a complete picture of why the world is the way it is, not just our reality but in the global context, including other cultures and, of course, nature. Learning about the causes and effects of events in the history of humanity gives us better tools to deal with conflicts between nations and individuals. Studying the history of environmental changes gives us the opportunity to improve our lifestyle and prevent the extinction of plants and animals that can alter our ecosystems.
Goes beyond “when” and “where”
In addition to locating the facts at a specific time and place, this discipline teaches us to think. Contemplating the experiences that happened before us invites us to reflect WHY they happened, allows humanity to look at its own reflection, good or bad, and learn from it. This perspective gives us the possibility of surviving over time. Understanding the cause and effect of certain actions helps us to learn from the mistakes of our ancestors and ourselves in order to transform the world into a better place to live.
There are different ways of creating or analyzing history and that will obviously depend on the ideology, position or knowledge that the historian in question has previously. In any case, whatever that position, any form of history will contribute to continue building the past and our vision of it in a thousand different ways but equally useful and interesting.
Human behavior can be unpredictable at times, but a better understanding, through the study of history can provide information of great value to future generations. The analysis of our past gives us valuable lessons that serve to predict in some way, the consequences of our actions in the future, without having to pay a very high price for it.