Something has been bugging me for a couple of weeks.
In the first night of my ‘Turbulence in World Politics’ seminar, our TA started the discussion with September 11. He explained that they normally began the class discussing the end of the Cold War…but that time reference was too far into the past for students to be able to comment on it so they began with September 11 after that.
This truly irked me. First of all, the students that are taking this class study International Affairs and IA of today cannot be properly studied and executed without knowledge of how history has brought us to today. Dealing in international affairs, you cannot begin to understand the cultural differences and the reasons why certain political figures interact the way they do with each other without knowing the background. So with that assumption, students that are seriously studying International Affairs, especially if they are at a school like GW in the center of our nation’s capital…they would have to have knowledge of the Cold War. Oh and especially because history courses covering the Revolutionary War up to the early 90s (End of the Cold War anyone?) is REQUIRED as a pre-requisite to any major classes that you take as an IA major. So without even getting into how important it is for a person to understand history, the students that have come far enough to taking this seminar will have had to take classes discussing the Cold War as a requirement.
Unless they’re sophomores. But oh wait. Didn’t we learn about WW2 in high school?
With that aside, it makes me wonder when history becomes obsolete. When the events don’t occur in our lifetime? If we didn’t watch it on TV, then it’s not relevant? If we can’t say we were alive on that day, the consequences of history don’t impact our daily lives?
My generation is supposed to be the generation that makes a difference because we’re supposed to look at everything that has happened in the 19th & 20th centuries and make sure that we don’t make the same mistakes because we have the luxury of learning from the mistakes of our forefathers and we are supposed to make sure that the thousands of men and women who died all around the world for OUR future did not die in vain.
How can we do that if the majority of the future ‘leaders’ think that an event like Cold War, one of the most important periods of time in the history of U.S. Foreign Policy isn’t important enough to remember and discuss when moving forward?
When does history become obsolete? When we can’t google it? When people who lived that history are no longer alive to talk about it? When it’s not convenient for us to remember it?
What was the most significant event of YOUR life time? Your parents? Your grandparents? How would you feel if your kids went on with their lives without knowing the importance of all these events?