“History is useful tool, not answer to every problem”

I can remember that not too long ago, when I used to study history, I used to try to argue points, and only pull up supporting arguments from history, and ignore those that did not help my case.  As I have grown (and I hope matured) in my field of study, I have learned to not make arguments and find history to support me.  Rather I allow history to make the argument, and I research to find the truth.  Sometimes, this has meant me being completely wrong about an issue, but at the end of the day, the journey I get to take when I research makes my quest for knowledge and answers worth it.   Over at AZ Central, there is an interesting post talking about how some people may try to take history out of context, or use it as a political tool, rather than a lesson.

But I object when voices from across the political spectrum claim history tells us the answer to more complex questions: what our tax policy should be, why a specific crime happened and, most disturbingly, which political views prove us to be good citizens and which reveal us to be bad ones.

History, like philosophy or physics, gives us essential information about the world. It is neither oracle nor referee.

When devoted “tea party” members don tri-cornered hats and question others’ patriotism, even many of those who respect the Constitution’s framers sigh wearily and point out that 2013 is not 1776 and that people can love liberty yet disagree over policy.

Something about their relentless focus on the achievements of the founding era provokes a desire to point out its flaws and the salutary changes of the last centuries.

I share that reaction: We cannot win policy arguments by claiming some history matters and some does not.

Check out the rest of the article here.


Christian, Lover of History, Aspiring Teacher

Posted in Some Simple Rants On History, Teaching History, Thoughts from Other Historians

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