Don’t Know Much About History? Learn Some.

Samuel Chi, the editor of RealClear History, assesses the ramifications of the widespread ignorance of history that exists in our civilization. He begins the article with this:

While waiting for the boat to take us across the channel to the USS Arizona Memorial, I overheard a group of college students discussing history. Unable to help myself, I lingered to eavesdrop. And this is the gist of what I heard: “The World War II [sic] started with a bunch of countries on one side and a bunch of counties on the other side,” a young man began, his companions listening with rapt attention as if it were a lecture, “and we didn’t know which side we wanted to be on and we had a hard time picking sides. But when the Japanese attacked us, that made it easy to go against their side.”

I didn’t know whether I should be enraged at or take pity on the young man’s ignorance. But what was most troubling was that he was the one dispensing “knowledge”! The others–judging by the fact that no one disputed or challenged his account–knew less than he did, even after apparently 12 years of compulsory education.

I have always been under the impression that our society values science a lot more than it values history. Admittedly, scientific research has yielded more results in terms of healing illnesses as well as prolonging and improving quality of life than has historical research. Science has also given us more LCD televisions and Red Bull than history.

Still, one of the keys to a virtuous and productive society is a liberally educated populace. It has ever been so.

It’s never too late to learn some more history. I know of a great book that was written on our our history and identity. You should buy it and read it.

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