Every now and then, I skim through news articles to keep myself up to date with what’s happening around the world, but I don’t really think too much about it. The depth of my thoughts remain on the surface when I don’t feel inclined to write an argument about it. Because I can’t personally relate to certain events, I detach myself from the information, failing to recognize it as reality.

However, now more than ever, we need to feel connected with history. As the number of Holocaust survivors diminishes and memories of 9/11 fade into the background, we start to lose respect for past disasters. Without victims to avidly humanize these events, people view certain tragedies as little more than a sad story. Feeling detached from history, people inappropriately judge the significance of different events and disrespect those involved.

Although important historical events are ingrained in public school curriculum, not all students take the information as seriously as they should. Viewing it as just another grade for their transcript, many don’t see the need in memorizing the lessons they learned, which causes problems for the future.

As George Santana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Too focused on our own lives, we don’t stop to consider how we unconsciously perpetuate the same mistakes. Desensitized from the past, we forget to stop ourselves from continuing the same patterns that led us to conflict in the first place. 

From equal rights to immigration reform, these issues aren’t new, yet many treat it like they are when they hear it on the news. In case you couldn’t tell, the “Muslim Ban” is a spitting image of the Immigration Act of 1917. The popularity of President Donald Trump mimics the popularity of populism during President Andrew Jackson’s term. Also, a couple of the conflicts of the Civil Rights Movement have been brought back to light with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Additionally, for those who intend to speak for social justice, make sure that you fact check your argument first. Don’t be that person on Twitter condemning certain government decisions, thinking you sound impactful, but you come off as uneducated instead. Understanding history is the key to understanding the present.

When we forget our past, we harm ourselves in the process. Regardless of whether one had first hand experience in historical events, it’s important that people are educated on these topics, especially if they intend to speak on it. As corny as this may sound, it is our responsibility as citizens to not only understand the current state of the government but also the history that made it what it is today.

Do you think it's important to learn about history?