GRE Issue Essay 176
“The study of history has value only to the extent that it is relevant to our daily lives.”
History is a great teacher. We not only have many things to learn from the experiences of people in the past, but history is a guiding light for our actions. These may be the actions of our daily lives, or actions to be carried out in future. The given statement takes only one aspect of the effect of history. I believe that along with being relevant to our daily lives, history has a lot more to offer as a guiding principle to our decisions in future as well.
When a student studies history, he might feel that it is no use digging out old graves. However, he would realize the importance of history when he begins to correlate his present with the events in the past. As it is said that history repeats itself, it can be observed that there are many things that happen today which may have a reflection in the past. What we are today is only a transformation of the past. The civilized society of today has its origin in the ancient civilizations, the only difference being that with time there has been advancement and development. However, if you come to think of it, we learnt to live in a civilized society much before there was any development.
Apart from having its origin in the past, our present is greatly effected by events and happenings of the past. We have learnt to stay in harmony with each other only because a history of conflict and hostility has proved to be dangerous for everyone. We have seen that the wars in the past have been extremely devastating. The world wars have not only caused great losses to life and property, but they have also made irreparable damages to the existence of mankind on earth. The formation of peace treaties and alliances in the present amongst various nations is due to these lessons learnt from history. It is clear from a study of history how a nation becomes easy to conquer if it is not united. The British had conquered many nations and made them their colonies by adopting the policy of divide and rule. This teaches us that in order to keep a foreign power from overpowering the nation, it must remain united and strong.
Similarly, since people have known a dictator like Hitler in the past, there is increased awareness amongst them about their rights. It is only because we understand how dangerous dictatorship can be for the common man that we can prevent a situation leading to dictatorship today. That is why, every move and action of the governing body is observed and questioned by all the citizens who want their rights to remain protected.
History guides us for the decisions to be taken for our future as well. For example, it has been seen that deforestation and pollution has led to a great environmental imbalance. The life-saving ozone layer is depleting. There are fewer rains and the increase in the global temperatures has resulted in the melting of ice caps. All of this is but the result of human actions of increased pollution and cutting down of trees. Contemplating that the result of this human behavior can be dangerous for the existence of life on earth, it is being advocated to plant more trees and refrain from polluting the environment further. Even if life continues today with the amount of pollution, such decisions are made so that we can have a better and secure future. Therefore, it is the past that teaches us the effect of deforestation and pollution on the environment.
In the end I would like to affirm my stand by saying that history not only has great relevance in the present, but also it is a guiding principle for our future. We can see the reflection of our present in the past and can also predict the outcome of our actions in the future by keeping in mind the similar situations in history.