One of woodpeckers numerous hobbies is the study of history.
Although ignorants consider it nerdy or boring, there is a lot to gain from this occupation.
So I let it take up increasing parts of my spare time, which luckily is ample due to downshifting and reducing superfluous occupations of my past (like excessive money counting, or pointless anonymous discussions in the internet).
The study of history is a very worthwhile endeavour, especially when you live in Europe, an area where every country, every city, and virtually every square meter is soaked with history, where virtually all peoples and nations had sky-high moments and times of darkest night in their past. A place where our fates are intermingled to a point such that people without history knowledge will never be able to understand what is going on today, why it is going on and what will happen next.
To polish up the image of history as an occupation, I have a few benefits for you to consider:
- You gain a much broader view on life, on your own existence and the tininess of our daily worries and fears compared to the “whole thing” in space and time
- You understand that we all are only small parts in the huge chain that I’d like to call the „great human adventure“, a development that leads our race from the caves of the stone age through the rise and fall of empires, rulers, nations, to where we stand today
- You understand how we all, and all our actions are influenced by the power of the past. How the experiences, traumata and fates of our ancestors somehow live within our collective thinking and influences our actions and feelings as a society
- You see that the same holds true for the societies around you and their relationship towards the group you are part of
- You understand that you are not part of one group, but of groups on multiple levels. E.g. in Woodpeckers case, I am Franconian, Bavaria, German, European and World-Citizen, depending on the situation, and depending on the way I want to see myself
- You can see how errors are repeated and you can try to avoid them, or even predict the future to some extend. You can also see how things are done to avoid errors (yes, that happens! See bullet 9)
- That all makes you much more mild and relaxed towards all the hustle and bustle around you. You get an understanding that the great human adventure, that we are all part of, was always a chaotic and non-linear mess, with ups and downs, with distractions and confusion. Nevertheless, we are still here! 🙂
- Alias, from that higher perspective, you will clearly see that, overall, the human adventure constantly makes progress. Despite all errors and cul-de-sacs, despite atrocities and terrible mistakes, it is amazing how our race moves on, how it was (and still is!) able to tackle and overcome even the largest and most fearsome problems that it encounters on it‘s way
- You will better understand politics.
Politicians are not all stupid or the always selfish pack that minor mind think they are (in typically projecting their own selfishness on them). Of course they are sometimes, but very often, you will just not understand the reasons why they are doing certain things. Because many, if not most, decisions of our so-called rulers are not as free as they seem, but they are embedded in the course of history, they are forced by the strong and ever-pushing current of history and by the state of society, that pushes humanity forward. Politicians mostly do (and did) just mirror the society they live in. The good politicians are the ones that know history well and are able to see beyond their time. They will be criticised a lot by their people, but only later be called genius.
Many short time unfavourable decisions might turn out brilliant in the long run, many clever short-term gains turn pale in the bleaching light of time going by.
By studying history you will be better able to understand the forces and the currents in the river. You will see when it is worth an effort to reach the shore or when you’d better not swim against the current.
- For me, seeing how humankind overcame so big confusion, chaos and catastrophes in the past, makes me very confident that humanity will be able to master the future too, no matter what comes.
- This is a precious insight in times where most people seem to agree that the future will be grim.
It ist not! It is just different. And always was.
Future might look grim from our daily “ant” perspective, but difficulties are nothing new to humankind. They were always there, and we always mastered them.
We can and we will master them again!
I seldom do book recommendations, but in this case I have a book that is almost too good to be true.
It is of interest for German readers mostly, but also for all European neighbors:
„German History of the 19th and 20th century“ by Golo Mann.
Mann writes the German (and European) history of the last two centuries not in tables and maps, but as a continuous tale and from all different perspectives without any bias. It can be read like a novel and is much more fascinating than most of them. Imagine: A history book as a pageturner! You just want to read on and on and see what happens next.
If you are German, please read this!
If it does NOT change your view on the world and on your country, let me know and I’ll spend you a beer in Munich!