History just makes sense to me, in the same way that Irish just, doesn’t. I’m hardwired to English and other languages just go right over my head because when I hear people speaking anything that isn’t English, my brain decides to dwell on other matters. If I could make it stop, I probably wouldn’t, because that might limit my brain space for English. I remember before the Junior Cert, when I sighed and circled Ardleibheal for the box with ‘Gaelige’ in it, my brain traitorously suggested that I swap my knowledge of English for the equivalent in Irish, which was one of its weaker moments.
History, though, just makes sense. I get the way you’re supposed to write about it, considering how people lived at the time, what it influenced, what else was going on simultaneously. I love history unless it involves people talking about The Irish Free State or Social Change in Ireland, that’s like trying to learn verbs in French – pointless.
However, say ‘The New Economic Policy’ or mention anything to do with the cold war mentality in America and you’ll have my complete and utter attention. The Junior Cert for me consisted of completely neglecting to learn about Irish history and delving far deeper than necessary into European and American history. My summer involved buying the Leaving Cert History book and writing out notes on Communism in Russia and reading the entire section on America many times.
I mean, Irish history is important to learn and I know as much about the 1916 Easter Rising as any History-obsessed girl, and I know enough about the Anglo-Irish treaty as is learnable from our Junior Cert book, but I know loads of Winston Churchill quotes and I know a lot about Fidel Castro, Auschwitz, George Washington, JFK and the Space Race. For me, ancient history is kind of, meh, ancient history, but get me near the American Revolution and I’ll drool.
Doing serious history is the only thing I miss about the academic year, now that I’m in TY. I’d love to write essays about Stalin, Lenin, the New Economic Policy and what it did for Russia, the show trials, the American Cold War mentality or maybe even a very small dose of the Irish Civil War.
Historical facts fit neatly into my brain and it empowers me. Knowing about the world and its history can make you so much more powerful. “People who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. We can’t lay the burden of learning from history at the feet of our elders, because soon we’ll be the elders and they’ll be dead. The past can’t die with them; it must live on in our minds, written in our hand, stored on our computers and its lessons should be written into the way we live.
History isn’t just the study of the past; it is the lesson for the future. History should be precious and it deserves to be remembered. Without history there is no yesterday, there are no laws, there is only chaos. The Romans deserve to be remembered for their ingenuity, the Inca’s deserve to be remembered because they had democracy when we had royalty, the millions of people killed in the concentration and extermination camps deserve to be remembered, the women systematically raped during the Bosnian War deserve to be remembered. History isn’t pretty, because the world isn’t, humanity isn’t, but history is the truth, and it deserves to be remembered.