The study of history is necessarily a filter of the past. We could never each learn from the entirety of all human experience as the sheer volume of information would be incomprehensible to our finite, individual intellects. Thus, we select. We filter. We choose what facts are important from our collective past and those that are not. We prioritise. We rank. We deem some facts worthy of greater study than others. This is an entirely rational process, making study of our past something that is intellectually accessible. But these choices, made not consciously but through historical habit, seek to shape our future. The stories that we choose from the past to define our present will inevitably help manifest our future.
Therefore, the constant, unfailing emphasis on the human proclivity for war bemuses me. War seems to be the primary focal point of all human history, all that is deemed ‘important’ to study. All ‘turning points’ in history seem to be related to and defined by human combat and human killing.
This is a collective habit. This is a collective choice.
Why don’t we all choose to concentrate our view of history through the perspective of love? Of compassion? Of creativity? Of hope? Of the most inspirational moments from our forefathers, not their most bloody…
George Santayana famously stated “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. Sadly it seems, our sole selective focus on the memory of past wars contributes to us continuing to use violence and war as solutions to our problems.
Humanity is so much better than this.