How to Study History
A story has a beginning, a climax, and an end none of which is pellucid while referring to mankind. So what is history then?
Is it just a bunch of theories given forward by many scholars and historians stipulated with archaeological evidences or is it just a collection of facts. Some might even call it the interpretations of events of yesteryears made by various people, which are now being taught to us.
Often students are told that to understand the present socio-political fabric and anticipate the future, the study of history is very important.
According to my knowledge and understanding, which is still quite acute, this is true. Our past has within it innumerable teachings that we can put to use at present times.
Whatever is happening today is the consequence of past deeds. We all must make some degree of effort to dwell on it. Whether you are a history student or not, there are certain things that we must all be familiar with.
For example What was the battle of Plassey? or Where are the seven wonders of the modern world?
It is of utmost importance that while understanding our past there should not be any bias or prejudice involved. Our effort to fathom historical data will be of no use if we look at it with a skewed perspective. While studying history we must act like a sponge, soaking it all in and not like a cell membrane practicing selective absorption.
All facts are of equal importance. We must not ever try to focus the spotlight on any particular event or person. Another salient skill that a person studying history needs to focus on is that we should never make any attempt to pass judgments on historical events. We must try not to be judgmental at all. Portraying one side as victims or heroes and the other as oppressors or villains is not correct while doing historical study.
Many common people do this. They tend to mold and present facts in a way that best suits their interests and opinions. In this everlasting play called history, all people involved should be just looked as characters doing their part. Just like Shakespeare said
All the world's a stage
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
What about empathy then? Shall we not show our condolences to holocaust victims or the aborigines?
Empathy is not something we should attach with facts. Historical information should be initially perceived in isolation and then looked at with the present scenario. But surely empathy plays an important role in understanding how the present is being altered by the past.
© 2020 Kumud Aggarwal