One Internet survey based on 186,000 opinions indicated that 59% of the people surveyed hated history.
Some theories pose the reason for such a result is that unpleasant events that have occurred in the past have lead some to want to ‘forget’ those memories by leaving all trace of them behind and to simply look toward the present.
Others theorize so many see old traditions and ways of doing things as hampering them from branching out into new ideas and new ways of exploration. This is often thought the reason that Henry Ford’s famous, ‘History is bunk” statement resonates with so many of the American people.
This is especially true when Europe and all its long historical troubles are so convoluted with long family ties and ancestries that people in the New World simply wanted to wash their hands of the whole dire mess.
Others theorize an attitude prevails that defines history as one purposeless journey. Random events transpire along in the human existence with no real control by anyone and with no real solid conclusions.
Regardless of why people hate history, the danger of not embracing history is akin to the recent definition of insanity: repeating an action over and over again hoping to receive a different result each time. Or as the philosopher, George Santayana, stated, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
The whole purpose of studying history is based on Historical Determinism. This is basically the principle of ‘cause and effect’. We learn from history lessons from the past that teach us what works and what doesn’t. Thus, if the lessons are applied, then if certain political and societal choices are then taken, it will result in a predictable result.
It also gives us powerful lessons on what does not work.
Often times, the world is awash with ideologies and political and societal movements that push and pull us in different directions – and all of them claim that if they are followed, great success will be delivered. We can do, as the Russians did with Soviet Communism, endure the torment of 70 years, only to find out it was an utter failure; or, we can learn from historical examples what does or does not work and avoid terrible loss.
Newburyport is a microcosm of world history. We were told in the past by two distinct groups that their game plan would ensure a prosperous future. One said invest in light industrial manufacturing and we will have jobs and prosperity. The other said that if we became an eco and heritage tourism site; we would have jobs and prosperity.
In the end, learning from the causation of history that the results have solidly been behind the latter group. In disappointment, the first group ended up providing jobs for ‘other’ communities and provided tax revenues from paychecks and property for other towns. The second group, at first, looked to be providing low-income tourist jobs and a limited potential but history has shown historic preservation encouraged newcomers to buy into our city and to gradually raise our quality of life far above the surrounding region.
We’re still stuck with a bunch of Henry Ford’s who want to ignore the lessons from the past and want to push on with the first group’s ideas. If they ignore history, not only will they not produce what they claim but it will produce a disaster as the city walks away from what actually works.
Discard history if you must in other communities but doing so in Newburyport will only spell disaster!