Historia, by Nikolaos Gyzis, oil on panel, 1892.
Why is history so important? If I had a penny for every time someone has asked me that question during the past year... I'd have about £2.57 in my piggy bank.
How would you feel about having your memory wiped? Not too happy, I imagine. You'd have a pretty hard time reaching a decision without it. We access our own personal history repository continually in order to function throughout our waking lives. Without any knowledge of our own past, we'd have trouble choosing what to wear, what to drink, where to go when we leave our homes and how to get back to our homes once we'd left them. When you visit a new doctor or dentist for the first time, he takes a personal history. When you apply for a job, your prospective employer will consider your academic and work record. When you apply for a mortgage, your bank will examine your credit history. We use information about our personal history to make decisions, and those looking to make decisions about situations that involve us will do the same thing. There's no getting away from the past.
Given that wiping out the record of our own personal history would render us unable to get through the day and carry out the most basic of tasks, or get a mortgage or job, consider the consequences of wiping out the memory of every man, woman and child on the planet.
History in the broader sense, as in the stuff books are full of, is our global memory. It enables entire countries to function on a daily basis because it stands as a reminder of what went wrong, or what went right, the last time a particular government decided to raise taxes, cut spending, shake up the national health system or go to war. Without it, every nation would be working blind.
Keeping the above in mind, it still amazes me that when I was at school I was told that history was a 'soft option' which would prove useless to me once I was out in the 'real world'. It's even more shocking that the person who told me this was my history teacher.
Causes Gina Collia-Suzuki Supports
The World Wildlife Fund
Cancer Research UK