History, defined by E.H.Carr is “a continuous process of interaction between the historian and his facts, an unending dialogue between the present and the past”. People do get frightened by the scholarly connotation of the word ‘historian’, but actually, anyone can be a historian. This lets history to be flourished with diverse perspectives and argument about a trivial event for normal people. Indeed, history is a subject that is very subjective. Interpretation is valued more than the facts, and the facts itself are sometimes not determined. However, being so subjective that it establishes the identity of a person, ethnicity, and a nation has consolidated its position as a subject in our world. To proclaim a more braver argument, Shin Chae Ho was believed to say that ‘there is no future without history’. Even though that was not true, historians such as Eun-Shik Park in his book, ‘Painful history of Korea’, suggested that ‘history can even revive a dead country’. This leads to an idea that if a country’s future can only exist by the past, history can modify and alter the future as it constantly modifies its past.
History was, and still is a dextrous tool for politics and especially modern day politicians. History and its role of defining the ‘causes’ has triggered history to be deeply rooted in political action. On a minor scale, they often raise motions based on history. For instance, the majority of territorial claims are based upon their past when they were glorious and successfully expanded for such a region. Even though some may trivialise history’s significance, history is more than just a cause. History can even justify those claims to be valid both externally and internally. The examples are: Israel being established and protected by the West, China consistently indulging into border conflicts, and Russia enforcing upon Ukraine by maximum support from their constituents. As justification is what politicians continuously crave for, eventually, history may ‘revive a dead country’.
Other than the somewhat broad scale of history utilised by politicians, history is beneficial for the constituents they represent. In life, there are moments that critical thinking is required, and history grants people to self-actualise against their biases. Unless they are trapped in an echo chamber and analyse only the same viewpoint, the chance of noticing other angles is possible. This process of critical thinking lets people look back into their past, and it lets people not repeat the same mistake. Even nowadays others do argue that ‘history always repeats itself’, but history just causes it to not be repeated. People are always aware of World War 1 leading to World War 2 but often forget the League of Nations became the United Nations and humanity acknowledged universal rights afterwards. However, the judgements and perspectives about these events are changing until this point.
Even so, there are issues that cause men to believe that history and humanities itself are useless.Some men even argue that artificial intelligence would replace the role of politicians and lawyers which are occupations that utilise history most often. Although this might happen, history should stay with the life of humans. As we have no total assurance of the future, history always exists to modify and create the future for humanity. Humans will need the knowledge from the past to move on with their future. So, pointing out that history must be removed due to the improvement of technology only emphasises the importance of history.
Scipio, seeing the fall of Carthage, quotes Homer by saying ‘A day will come when sacred Troy shall perish, And Priam and his people shall be slain’. As he says, Rome collapsed in Constantinople just as Carthage resisted his forces burning down the city. Even though it was considered a prophecy, history acts as a link that connects real life and mythology to our world. History was and will continue to paradoxically create the future of humanity. Therefore, the value of history must not be underestimated and should be esteemed as it takes a significant part of the roots to our world.
Jeongwoo (Ernest) Lee
Member of the History Society