We often think “what can one person do?” There are so many huge, colossal, intractable problems in the world that we feel overwhelmed. I am just one person, we say, and shrug. We go back to our little lives, sure that nothing we are doing, saying, thinking or feeling has any consequences because we are too small to matter.
This is not so. Many of us pay lip service and talk a good game, preaching that we can make a difference. But secretly, in our hearts and in our gut, we are not sure we believe this.
One of the best ways to show that we do make a difference to the large events and trends of the world is to look backward at “big” history, and compare it to our own lives. I promise you that you will find that what you did, thought, felt, and saw did have an effect – on history. You were not only affected by the events and trends of your time, you affected them.
There is a corollary to this truth. Once you have seen, and felt in your gut, that you did have an impact – that what you did, thought, felt and saw in the past mattered, then what you are doing now, thinking now, saying now, feeling or seeing now – also has an impact.
And if we all really believed that, deep in our hearts, maybe, just maybe, we would make wiser decisions. Maybe if we really knew that we are responsible for our earth, we would do it less harm.
That is why studying history is important.