Studying History for Personal Growth
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What on Earth has history got to do with your self-development?
A lot, as it happens. Sure, we learn history at school, but because of the limited time we have there and because of our age, our study can be limited. In addition, we only learn what the government or school board thinks we should, which often doesn't include controversial subjects that are too complex to cover in such a short time.
Learning About The World
But as we get older, studying the history of our countries, our people and the world as a whole will help us gain much greater understanding of the world we live in and why it functions as it does. Reading a variety of books about major events, personalities and societies can open our eyes to the fundamentals of life and the truth behind our everyday reality. This kind of study opens up all kinds of unexpected avenues for personal growth.
Often, we will come across things that shock us. When I first read about the extent of the enslavement of Africans I just couldn't believe it. I never knew how many millions of innocent men, woman and children were raped, beaten and murdered just for economic gain. I cried when I found out how slavetraders and slavemasters split families up without any chance to say goodbye, killed mothers in front of their children and raped women in front of their husbands. I couldn't even comprehend the scale of this cruelty, and it deeply affected me. Reading Willie Lynch's speech helped me to understand how this evil trade still affects the lives of African American and Caribbean communities until this day.
Since then I have read about the atrocities committed by King Leopold of Belgium, the genocide in Namibia which Hitler later used for inspiration, and the plight of the Aborigines in Australia. The horrors that have been committed against innocent people shock me to the core. What is even worse is that the victims were never compensated or apologized to, up until this day. It deeply offends my sense of justice.
The History of Our Own Country
Learning that the country we live in has been the scene of gross atrocities against humanity can be uncomfortable, but it is absolutely necessary for us to know the truth, accept the truth and own the truth. It is only from there that we can really make change. This is the same as in our self-development. We have to face the uncomfortable and even horrific truths of our history so that we can chart realistic process for the future.
Most countries have been the perpetrators of violence and aggression, on some scale, in their history. Often we find that even though these atrocities are long since over, they have far-reaching effects that have an impact even up to this day. Owning the mistakes of our countries as well as its victories shows that we truly love our country, as we are willing to be proud of it despite the mistakes that it has made. It is only through raw honesty that we can address injustices that will make our countries better places.
Some people think that being patriotic requires us to think only good of our countries, but this is simply not the case. The USA was founded on the genocide of the Native American people and the torture of enslaved Africans. It is more patriotic to admit this that than to deny it or try to justify it. Along with all of America's glory, it holds oppression and fault, too. How will we be able to improve our country and make it a more just place, without an accurate assessment of what it is responsible for?
The thirst for truth and the willingness to face it, however ugly it may be, is what will carry us through to success. Success is based on an accurate analysis of what problems face us, so that the solutions we implement actually work. If we want success for our own lives, we must delve deep to discover what has gone wrong in the past that prevents success in the present. This is the basis for powerful personal growth. The same is true of our nations. If our country truly stands for justice and we consider ourselves patriots, we must take on the duty of promoting justice for all, and righting the wrongs of the past.
- Iman Mohiki
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