Hopeful History

History can be…confronting. There are, undoubtedly, many dark moments in history. For those of us living in the present it can be difficult to reconcile the past with what we think and feel today. Certainly, it’s much easier to talk about dinosaurs (and who doesn’t love a dinosaur) then it is to talk about colonialism, slavery, and war.

Have sympathy for the history teachers of the future, for they will have to explain the 21st-century’s response to climate change and gender identity

But I’m a big fan of the quote from George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” And, in many ways looking back at history gives us hope.

Locked down due to a global pandemic? Yeah, there’s been a few of those. Worried about the economy? Don’t forget our parents and grandparents survived the Great Depression.

Of course these are big picture attitudes – it’s harder to be philosophical when it’s your loved one who is sick with Covid, or your family who can’t pay the bills. And yet, history still tells us to take heart, to go forward with enthusiasm, and to make the future better than the past.

That is the hopeful quality of history. Why we must learn it, and we must teach it.

Are you feeling hopeful right now? When you reflect on history, do you draw hope, or does it all get you down?

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