The trouble with people is that they are all human. All too human! Yes, we have some amazing capabilities, but we also have some built-in and very predictable shortcomings. One of classic our weak spots is our memories. We tend to remember things that don’t really matter, and forget the things that really do. Like how the smell of bread fresh out of the oven can instantly take you back to the happy days of your childhood in your mother’s kitchen fifty years before. And then your 25th anniversary totally slips your mind!
But there are some things that we forget at our peril. And the peril of our whole culture. Once a upon a time, absolute monarchies were the norm in western civilization – 5% elite rulers, 95% abject, destitute peasants. But after some seriously bloody revolutions, we transformed our world into a democratic society. Still not perfect, but a vast improvement. Over time though, people started to take their democratic freedom for granted and forgot how bad it was under despotism. It wasn’t long until whole nations fell back under the heel of communist tyranny.
Diseases like polio, tuberculosis, smallpox, and yellow fever claimed millions of lives over the centuries. Almost every household had an empty place at the table. Then in the early 20th century vaccines were developed that virtually eliminated these terrible plagues. Still not perfect, but a vast improvement. Vaccinations became universal. And then taken for granted. And then everybody seemed to forget why we needed them and what life was like before them. And so arose the ‘anti-vaccine’ movement.
As a society we seem to have forgotten why daylight savings time was instituted in the first place. It was because it made life better, not worse. Especially in our northern latitudes, a simple shift of the clocks and we were no longer sending the kids off to school in the dark of night, or watching the sun come up at 4:00 in the morning. Still not perfect, but a vast improvement. Most people alive today have lived all their lives under a daylight savings plan. They have never experienced the alternative. And because they (or collectively - we) tend to forget our history, we now have, every spring and fall, chorus of people demanding its abolishment, so their precious sleep isn’t disrupted.
What’s my point in all of this? Simply this: before you jump on somebody’s social media bandwagon and started bellyaching about… well, anything – do some homework! Almost everything you could wish to know about the history of almost any topic imaginable, is available to you with a few clicks of a search engine today. Those who choose to remain ignorant of history doom themselves (and maybe many others) to repeat all the same mistakes over and over and over again. We don't need to reject, re-write, or re-live our history - we need to learn from it. Remembering our past allows us to build a stronger present and a better future.