“History is more or less bunk. It’s tradition. We don’t want tradition. We want to live in the present, and the only history that is worth a tinker’s damn is the history that we make today.” Henry Ford’s attitude stated in a 1916 issue of the Chicago Tribune is unfortunately still common in today’s world. Nothing against Henry Ford, the man’s accomplishments in the automotive industry and his key contributions to increase wages and improve worker’s welfare were deeds unmatched during his time. But, the idea that the only history that matters is the one we make today is far from correct. It’s evident students and people sometimes don’t regard history as an exciting subject. Truth be told, history can be a boring subject to many, especially if there’s an instructor who’s not so lively and assigns 100 question online assignments to complete by 11:59 p.m.
Regardless, history is an exciting, useful and important subject more relevant in today’s society than we may think.
History is the link from the past to the present. It allows us to look at different chapters of time and pick out lessons and issues we can use to better ourselves. One of the coolest things about history is the stories. Everything has a story, the computers you use, the buildings that hold classes; even the desk you sit on in class has a story. Stories, whether they are good or bad, deserve to be told.
History gives a voice to issues and people from the past. It’s a lens to examine history’s greatest figures and average Joes. Many of the most well-known people of the past came from humble beginnings. Abraham Lincoln spent his childhood in log cabins, and had hardly any professional education at all. But through self-teaching, compassion and hard work he was able to become the greatest president the United States has ever seen. By examining historical figures (good or bad, famous or not famous), we can learn how to become better humans.
Last week on campus there was an anti-Trump protest under the Sombrilla. In the 1970’s, UTSA students were protesting the Vietnam War in the exact same spot. History matters because we are part of it—both past and present.
With the 2016 U.S. presidential election and subsequent immigration ban, history may have more importance now than ever. We’ve seen prejudice and discrimination against certain religious and ethnic groups before and we’ve been able to persevere and push past that. It’s a crazy and tumultuous time to be alive right now, but by looking at the past and learning from it, we can better understand, brace ourselves and improve our world.