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HIST 102 Survey of American History II M01: Discussion (1)

Question: Why study history? Does "history repeat itself?"

Note: this assignment is a reflective exercise. There are no right or wrong answers. Please read the Peter Stearns article (Links to an external site.)for some perspective and refer to his insights in the original post.

The article by Peter Stearns makes many solid arguments to the validity of studying history, Though I have always had a interest in history, especially the type of history that I can relate to, I believe the most important reason to study history is to understand people and societies. Sometimes confusion on why a certain people or society act can be better understood if one knows the history involved.

An example of a current event would be the recent clashes between Israeli and Palestinian forces. Most people would be confused as to why both forces are fighting unless they understood that the Gaza Strip was once owned by Palestinians but was lost in fighting back in the 60's and 70's. Two very different opinions could be reached just by the interpretation of the history between the two nations. History plays a vital role in this conflict. Another example a little closer to home would be how the American history of slavery plays a role in black and white relations in this country. The argument of racism today has a base from the practice of slavery in the United States. Continued historical practices of racism after the Civil War in the United States certainly plays a role in the discussion of racism today. I believe that in order to fully understand racism in this country, one must educate themselves on the history involved.

With the history of mankind being so extensive, it would be hard to argue that history does not repeat itself. A better way to debate this subject is to use the many examples we have, such as the riots in the 90's in Los Angeles. The reasons for this riot has an incredible resemblance to the riots in Watts in the 60's; the perception of police violence towards black citizens. Not every historical event is a repeat of history, but some certainly mirror other events in history. My opinion on the subject would conclude that societies could predict some of the future by reviewing past history.

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