When I was in school, my strongest subjects were in STEM — science and math specifically.
In high school, I was required to study history. In college, I was required to study philosophy or some other humanities subject.
At the time, I was slightly annoyed that I had to “waste” time studying these subjects instead of what I really wanted to study.
My original thinking was, “What’s the point of studying what happened in the past when today’s world is all about the future and where it is going? What is the point of studying the thoughts of people who died 2,000 years ago? How can that possibly be relevant to modern-day living?”
Well… I was wrong.
Today, I don’t see history as the study of what happened in the past. I see it as the study of mistakes made by the people who came before us — mistakes that can be learned from and avoided in the future. I see it as understanding the foundations that have led to modern-day predicaments.
It’s impossible to understand the conflicts in the Middle East (and their impact on modern-day societies and economies) without understanding the historical context that led to them.
The war in Ukraine has a historical context that, if ignored, provides an incomplete view of the situation.
Philosophers who died 2,000 years ago aren’t purveyors of obsolete ideas. Rather, they provide prescriptions for how to deal with the timeless problems human beings have dealt with for thousands of years.
What do you do when you don’t get what you want? That’s not just a modern-day problem. It has been a problem since the start of humanity. That’s the philosophy of adversity.
What do you do when someone you care about dies? That’s the philosophy of loss and grief.
What do you do when you love someone but you’re not sure if they love you back? That’s the philosophy of love (and heartbreak), which predates dating apps.
Everything we are. Everything we do. Everything we experience. It’s all connected to everything else.
You can’t fully grasp today’s economic situation without looking at data prior to this year.
You can’t fully grasp race relations and racial tension by looking at news headlines from only the past 30 days.
The emotional arc of being human hasn’t changed; only the technical details on the fringes have.
Adversity is still adversity. Loss is still loss. Matters of the heart are still matters of the heart.
If you want to figure out where you want to go in the future, you have to understand your present. To fully understand your present, you have to understand the past that has led you to your present.
Everything is connected to everything else.
Let me know your thoughts on this by commenting below.
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