What Now?

Something happened on my blog yesterday which doesn’t happen every day: I got a new follower. This isn’t one of those mega blogs that aims to be a major player and which actually looks more like a ‘proper’ website than a blog. This is just (not so) little old me with my thoughts. Every follower is someone who has made a conscious decision to do that – well, I hope they were conscious – and I appreciate each and every one. Likewise, every time someone reads what I write I am honoured that you have given a little of your time to me. So, new follower, welcome!

I don’t follow everyone back – I make the same informed choice that they have made. But I always look at their blog, as I like to see the range of people who might be interested in my thoughts. Yesterday’s follower was one that made me think. Prompted, no doubt, by my post about the history of Guy Fawkes Night in the UK Samantha, who writes The Historical Diaries, followed me. I’ve given you a link, so please have a look at her blog. I am interested in our history, so was pleased to follow back. But it got me thinking: why follow me? I am not writing about history, although a number of my posts have had historical themes and I mention it in many others. So hopefully I won’t be an instant disappointment! But this wasn’t really what I spent time on – what took my attention was history itself. Why do we study it? What can we learn from it?

I guess it is something we begin to notice as we get older, and have more history of our own. Most of us were introduced to history in a school classroom, usually by a teacher who did little to enthuse us about the subject. I’m no different: I chose to study it to exam level instead of a science, as I was hopeless at scientific subjects, and then dropped it once I had somehow passed an exam. Looking back, that was a criminal waste! When you think about it, the world in which we live has been shaped by its history, and the more we know about that the better we can hope to understand what is happening nowadays. After all, this will be the subject of future history lessons. This may be sooner than you think, too: I remember when one of my daughters first asked me about the Beatles. At last, I thought, she is beginning to take an interest in the music I like. So I asked her why she wanted to know, and was put firmly in my place by her reply: “we’re studying the 1960s in history!”

The more I get to know about the history of the world to date, the more I realise that there is nothing really new happening. The two major issues of recent years have been global terrorism and economic downturn. But neither of these is new: we are just experiencing the 21st century version of them. Much of the terrorist activity is linked to, or claimed to be carried out in, the name of one religion or another. But conflicts with a religious aspect have been around for more than 1600 of the past 2000 years, and most of those ‘missing’ years were before 1000AD. And I’m no economist but it doesn’t take a genius to work out that the world, either wholly or in part, has always varied in its levels of economic health and wellbeing.

It could be argued that we haven’t learned many lessons from history, but to my mind that would be a depressing thought. Yes of course we keep on making mistakes, often the same ones that our ancestors made, but I’m a firm believer that it is better to sin by commission rather than omission, i.e. that doing nothing is not an option, as it will change nothing. Maybe you wonder whether we need to make changes. Let me ask you a question in response to that: do you think we live in a perfect world? If not – and I’d find it hard to accept any argument that we do – then change is needed. We shouldn’t lose sight of what the past can tell us in helping us make those changes.

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15 thoughts on “What Now?

  1. I think that until we start as a people to understand the difference between UNITY and TRIBALISM, we are doomed to always looking at others as outsiders. I do, however, believe from reading so many different blogs that thee is a great desire for UNITY and that gives me hope.

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  2. Recently my husband decided he’d like to watch all The West Wing series after we’d watched the first series of Madam Secretary. I had watched them when they were first shown but he didn’t fancy it. They were first televised starting in 1999. What came across more than anything else was that all the issues – and I mean all – were exactly the same as those being fought and argued over in Madam Secretary 15 years later! Immigration, education, terrorism, the Middle East, gun violence, discrimination in all its forms… Nuances were different, for instance the Middle East is more about Syria now. I think individuals working on their own but more effectively collectively can and do effect change, by baby steps and over time, but it works. Just look at the Big Issues: look at all the groups who are now enfranchised, look at the recent u-turns in government education policy on women in history and in music that have been brought about by public petition; all our local libraries were due to be closed to save money but are now remaining open after a groundswell of public outrage. Online activism is a big deal now, online petitions, Twitter, Facebook etc all give global witness to injustice and many have benefitted from the spotlight being turned on to their plight. Never give up!

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    • We just keep repeating the same mistakes, breeding the same hatred and differences. I always thought it started with the Crusades but it goes further back. Depressing thought, isn’t it!

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  3. A good change would be parents not passing on their own religious views to their children when the child is at a tender age and believes anything they are told. Perhaps if the child is left to make up its own mind, then we might avert many future wars!

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  4. Clive,
    I absolutely love the way you chose to talk about history and took it from what so many would think of it just as is states “History” and made it more of an actionable word. I have no argument over your statements, but I do have a question. “How?” What is it that you think that an everyday person could be capable of doing to change our less than perfect history repeats its self world?
    I am so happy that you shared this with me!

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    • Thanks for your kind words, Lexie. Good question! I don’t think I had ordinary people so much in mind as mankind as a whole: nations, governments etc. For us, as individuals, we can only hope to change the history of our families, our localities, workplaces etc by thinking about what could be better, and helping to achieve it. From every acorn….

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  5. History does seem to repeat itself that is for sure.

    I enjoy reading your posts. They provide food for thought. Always interesting reflections.

    Like you, my blog isn’t seeking mega status which is good because it definitely doesn’t have it.

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