Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Light We Thread

Now that the tone is set, where to begin?  

I shall start by saying that I like history.  I did not read history in college; I read business administration.  I did not take any history course during my college years, nor during my high school, but history remains a subject that interests me the most. 

But it is not history per se that interests me.  It is not who did what where when that concerns me.  I also would not enjoy taking history lesson and be graded on my historical knowledge.  Neither do I fancy making a living being a history teacher.  None of those.  I like history because it helps me understand. 

One cannot fancy to understand the present without looking at the past.  What you are is where you were when, says Morris Massey in his video produced in 1986.  Well, Massey is not a historian.  He does not talk about history.  He is a management guru.  He talks about the three periods one goes through his life that develop his value system, which in turn influences his behavior and outlook.  In short, the three periods (namely the imprint, the modelling  and the socialization), all in the past, which mould his present.  In short, his history.

Nothing happens just like that.  The Egyptians, for instance, do not suddenly wake up and feel like congregating at Tahrir Square, calling for Mubarak to step down.   Neither do the Israelite Jews and the Palestinian Arabs suddenly feel like killing each other.  No, these things do not just occur suddenly.  All is rooted in the past.  There are long stories that serve as prelude to these occurrences.  These occurrences are shaped by history.

So long as there is a past, there is history (of course past is the only thing certain, for no one know for certain what the future will hold).  Even a thing that has nothing to do with history, such as mathematics, is rooted in history.  That is too presumptuous and too simplistic an assertion, I know, but Einstein would not be able to come up with his Theory of Relativity if Newton did not previously come up with his Theory of Mechanics.  I am indulging in the subject I am least competent, theoretical physic, and should say no more, but the point to make is that Einstein's theory can only come after Newton's theory, not the other way around.  It cannot be the other way around because it was Einstein and his contemporaries who corrected some errors theorized by Newton and the latter's contemporaries.  Needless to say, the mistakes have to be made first before they can be corrected.

Other than the most basic, mathematics and physic have always been above me, no doubt because of some historical factors in my life, but even the mundane thing like the history of mathematics fascinates me.  It does not make me understand mathematics any better, but it certainly makes me appreciate the subject that I used to dread. 

I observe that many people don't like history.  I just can't remember the date, they told me.  Who says history is about remembering dates.  Nay, history is actually a light by which we thread.  Surely we have been approaching history the wrong way.



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