TOPIC: ISSUE103 - "The study of history has value only to the extent that it is relevant to our daily lives."
WORDS: 631 TIME: 01:51:27 DATE: 2008-10-8 17:50:21
I admit that history is valuable when it can provide explanations or suggestions for our daily life; however, history- which can also describe our society, culture, and even human ourselves, is more complex than the statement asserts. In my view, it is worthy to study history, no matter whether the study is directly linked to our daily lives or not.
At first glance, everyone will argue that any study relevant to our daily life is important, of course, those studies should include history. Obviously, history can help us to explain many ordinary things in our society. For instance, it is a common sense that citizens in United Kingdom drive their car in the left lanes of the road, while in many other countries such as United States, people are obliged to drive on the right side. Actually, in medieval, all European ride their horse in the left side because- in this way- chevaliers are convenient to fight with their right hands which holding weapons. When modern road system was introduced, English people naturally inherit his tradition. On the contrast, French people consider they are different and enjoy a more developed society than their counterpart for centuries, they declared a right-sided road system. The French's action was soon accepted by many other nations and therefore adopted this system as well. In short, history study is definitely effective in explain this and many other phenomenon in our daily life.
On contrast, if our history text books only contain these anecdotes, the charming of history will be inevitably diminished. Imagine that our history books lack those significant political events and dramatic culture change, how terrible our students' knowledge will be? They will never know the exodus led by Moses; never know Julius Caeser, Augustus and their great legions and great empire; never know the King Author's round table meeting; never know the odyssey of Christopher Columbus; never know the establish of the United States and the Declaration of Independence; never know Neil Armstrong's first small step- as well as the giant leap for mankind- on the moon. Without such knowledge, we are ignorant to what our ancestor had achieved and what we can do in the future; moreover, we are even not able to define who we are. For humankind as a whole, I can confidently assert that, the history of Apollo project is more worthy than the knowledge about why we drive in the opposite direction of English.
Other people who emphasize on common and ordinary lives may further point out that historian's studies are both time-consuming and money-consuming, and thus cannot gain sufficient revenue comparing with the cost. On one hand, I have to concede that historical research cannot create direct benefits as fast as workers in IT industry or life science, let alone the managers in Silicon Valley or stock brokers in the Wall Street. This can explain that why few high school graduates choose history as their major in further education, while the applicants for finance, application technologies are always overflowed. On the other hand, the value of historians always merges in a long term. In some extreme examples, many historical record, were not recognized by the contemporary people; but their value was rediscovered by the later generations. A society that develops as fast as ours, people are more likely to overlook the long term profits. After all, the neglected field is not necessarily unimportant.
In conclusion, I would prefer to take a positive attitude to history study. Although history interpreting our daily life is valuable, those other history that reflects our society, culture, politics, and technology development is more important. Excluding the factor that history cannot bring instant benefit to our society, nation, communities and especially individuals, history is a worth filed to which we are obliged to devote.