“All people and peoples are living histories.” This simple sentence at the beginning of the second paragraph in Penelope J. Corfield’s article answers the overarching question: why does history matter? Corfield then goes on to point out obvious examples of this “living history,” including languages spoken, traditions and religions practiced, and even the use of technology that another person made. Corfield states that “understanding the linkages between past and present is absolutely basic for a good understanding of the condition of being human.”
Every individual, whether consciously done or not, seeks out their history. Sometimes it is as obvious as creating your family tree. Other times it is as simple as asking your parents or grandparents about their lives before you were born. I dug deeper into my own history by exploring Ancestry.com and submitting a DNA sample to 23&Me. I had no idea that I was 0.9% Spanish and Portuguese. I learned so much from just a little saliva in a tube. However, stopping there would only give me part of the story. In order to fully appreciate where you can from and how you became the person you are, you have to understand the context of when your ancestors lived.
In a broader sense, understanding history and historical topics on a global scale can help you understand why the world is the way it is today. History is every moment (ever), from when the earth was first created (whether it be divinely or scientifically) to every time someone tried to invade Russia in winter. One can look at history and learn from the mistakes and triumphs of people who lived before them. Any opportunity for education is not “bunk,” it is something that should be valued and appreciated. When you learn from the mistakes and triumphs of history, you can better understand both human nature in its essence and where we are going as a species.