This is a very brief piece that I wrote for a forum that I co-run. It is about my reluctant but timely recognition that the study of history makes sense.
Hi my name is Gareth.
I am a history denier.
I don’t deny that history happened, only that it isn’t that important in me thinking about my own life.
My ego is so distorted that I believe that all the information I need to make meaningful decisions in my life is immediately available to me in the present moment, or perhaps at most, a few minutes ago.
I’ve long been a history denier. I think it might stretch back to high school, where my history teacher was also the gym teacher, and wore ridiculously short shorts.
My denial is so strong that my brain rarely holds onto much in terms of my own history. Without friends and family to remind me of stuff that happened, I’m mostly a hollow tube, where experiences go in one end and just make their way, mostly untouched, out the other side.
But I know that this needs to change.
The first time I really acknowledged that history might have some value was when I was working in child and adolescent mental health. Parent-child dynamics play out over generations, and you at least need to understand individual and family histories in order to get a good grasp on those dynamics.
But despite me accepting the value of understanding ‘their’ history, I still tended to relegate history to the ‘meh’ basket in terms of my personal development.
The next time I had to consider that history was important was when I went into therapy and people started asking about my history and drawing sensible and often illuminating connections between my present behaviour and my past experiences – stupid therapists with all their ‘case formulations’!
Then a friend kept saying to me that history was important if you wanted to study humans. ‘Pfft’, I said. ‘I’ve got a degree in psychology – what else do I need to understand humans?’.
The final straw was a powerful role model in my life, whose life lessons, which resonated with me to my core, revealed that much of what they had learned, they had learned from reading and delving into human history.
So I’ve started my delving into history with WW-II and Vietnam.
Currently I think everyone is stupid, cruel and inherently evil. Does it get better from here?
Actually, that isn’t true.
Stupidity, cruelty, evil definitely play a role in how the world unfolds, how people interact.
But so do courage, sacrifice, honour and kindness. Humans have remarkable ‘potential’, however it may finally manifest.
So I’ll continue my journey backwards to try and better understand the grooves in space-time that guide my existence. Like a bad (good?) rollercoaster ride, I’m expecting to barf a lot and spend a fair amount of time screaming, but I suspect this little ignoramus of a brain of mine is going to experience a significant awakening.