103."The study of history has value only to the extent that it is relevant to our daily lives."
The speaker asserts that the study of history is valuable only insofar as it has something to do with our daily lives. Admittedly, the value of studying history is easier to be perceived when it is relevant to our daily lives. However, the speaker overlooks many other aspects of the values of studying history which seems more important in assessing the role of history study.
When the study of history is relevant to our daily lives, its value is so obvious that it almost obscures other aspects of its values. History stories well told is one of the most common ways of obtaining access to history. So many people are enthralled with the examination of the figures and events in distant ages. Talking about history has always been an important aspect of people’s entertainment and history has become a part of our lives. The many historical sites reminding us what happened in the past have always been the most attractive tourism destinations. The study of history enriches our lives, broadens our perspectives and helps us know more about the past.
However, the values of studying history go far beyond this narrow aspect of its values. People study history to explore the long course through which we have come to this day. By examining the development course of human beings, the study of history helps us understand how people and societies in different ages actually functioned, and draw a lot of lessons from this process.
A classical book comes immediately into my mind as an example, that is “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu, a prominent strategist and militarist in the “Spring and Autumn” period of ancient China. This classical military book features the wars and intrigues more than 2,000 years ago between the various powers and the many powerful leuds within these powers. However, “The Art of War” is nowadays a prevailing and even obligatory course in many military colleges including West Points, and is becoming a vitally important research topic for many military research institutions all over the world. Why does this book receive so much popularity throughout the world regardless of the differences of cultures, languages, history and ideologies between the various countries? The only reason is that this book can provide infinite strategic wisdom and inspirations even though all this book tells is a history of outmaneuvering between ancient Chinese leuds and an ancient’s thoughts. The wisdom and inspirations drawn from this book can help us cope with many problems we confront in our daily life with a historical perspective as if we were senior people having gone through numerous difficulties, sufferings and tribulations. This aspect of the values of history is of great importance which embodies a significance of practical function.
Another value of studying history is its power of providing national identity and loyalty for an ethnic group. With a universal history and the same ethnic identity, a nation is more apt to retain cohesion whenever this nation is trapped in difficulties. This identity is vital in rallying the nation as a whole. That is why many nations such as China, India and Japan, etc. stood the innumerable tests throughout the history and still exists as an integrated nation in this modern world.
Moreover, the study of history provides a good resource of material for the objective of cultivating good citizenship. The essential use of the study of the past equips the citizenry with a powerful storehouse of wisdom and inspirations. It provides a variety of references concerning the morality of the past sages when they weather a moral dilemma. People will learn how to behavior decently like a gentleman. What is more important is the lessons drawn from the past events. As China is rising as a more and more powerful country in terms of both economic and military, many Chinese economic specialists have immersed themselves in efforts to probe into the development history of Wall Street. The collapse of the Wall Street block market and the Great Depression in the 1930’s is still a nightmare for Americans. This provides an apt reference for China’s economy in its transition period and does great helps for the healthy development of China’s economy. In fact, not only China, the many developing countries all over the world are learning the lessons of Wall Street, they have become wiser to exert governmental influences on the financing market, which was despised and overlooked by the Jeffersonian for more than 100 years until Roosevelt took steps to interfere with the economy which was in astonishing confusion.
In sum, the study of history has its values in many aspects. The value of studying history is more obvious insofar as it is relevant to our daily lives, but we should extend our perspectives far beyond this narrow aspect of its values. With a comprehensive view of the study of history, we can obtain more from history and make it serve humans better.
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