Let’s Learn from History

September 17, 2020

Let’s Learn from History

By Russell George

We can and should learn by observing what is going on around us. There is also a wealth of knowledge, wisdom, and discernment that we can obtain from history. We can learn what works and what doesn’t. An ignorance of history causes us to make the same mistakes our forefathers made. Seldom is anything gained by making mistakes. Often we hear our senior citizens say, “Don’t make the same mistake I made.” We won’t hear those words from our forefathers who lived before we were born. We must read history to learn from them.

History can be a boring subject if it is just presented to us in books that state the facts of what worked in the past and what didn’t work. We can learn from those books, but it is much more interesting if we read it in books about people. There are biographies and autobiographies. A biography is a book written about a person. An autobiography is a book written by someone about his life. Both are interesting because they are about people. We can learn what made them successful. We can also learn from the mistakes they made.

It is unfortunate that many public schools aren’t teaching history. If they do teach it, it is an abbreviated version of it. Some books are being written that are a perverted version of history. They are written to put forth an ideology that the author wants to propagate. They aren’t an honest version of history.

A knowledge of history gives us discernment. It is especially beneficial for young people because there are many paths in life they can take. If they have a knowledge of history, they can learn from others who took the path they are thinking about taking and see where it leads to.

I grew up in the sand hills of Nebraska. My friends and I sometimes talked about how much fun we could have if a city boy moved into the neighborhood, or even if he was just in the neighborhood visiting his grandparents for a week. We would invite him to go snipe hunting with us. If he asks any questions about it, we would tell him, “We will tell you how we do it before we leave.” We would ask him to come to one of our houses where our mother had prepared a meal. All of our friends would be there also. After the meal, we would say, “Now let’s go snipe hunting.” As we made our way out to the pasture after dark, we would put a burlap sack in his hands. We would tell him, “Snipes are little animals that live out here in the hills. They are about the size of a bunny rabbit. They live in holes in the ground. They feed on cow piles. After dark they like to come out and run up and down the cow paths looking for cow piles. We catch them in a sack like we put in your hands. You will need to straddle the cow path and hold the sack open over the cow path. We will go on over the hill and if we see any we will chase them your way. Oh, here is a cow path. You need to stand here and hold the bag open over the path. We will go on over the hill and chase them over the hill.”

After we got over the hill out of his sight we would run around the back side of the hill and go back home, leaving him out there holding the bag.

For you city slickers, I need to explain some things to you. Snipes aren’t animals. They are birds that live in swampy areas. Animals don’t feed on cow piles. If you don’t know what cow piles are, I’m sorry but I can’t think of the proper words to explain that to you. If you are ignorant of history, you may find yourself out some night holding a bag over a cow path or an even worse situation.

History is a part of life. All of us have a history from the day we were born until the present. Everyone who has ever lived has a history of his life. It may not have been recorded or written but those who knew him know his history. All of us have had successes and failures. We can learn from one another; even those we have never known if we read their history.

From history we can learn to appreciate what our forefathers did for us. Those who came before us had to clear the forests where farmers now cultivate their crops. Some cleared the forests to make pasture where their cattle could feed. It might have taken two men several days to cut down a big tree and cut off the branches. They just had their axes and what was called a “crosscut saw” that two men used. They used their horses to drag off the branches and the trunk to a place where they could burn it. Then they had to dig around the stump, cut off the roots, and tie their horses to the stump to see if they could pull it out. If they couldn’t, they had to dig some more and cut off the tap root. With the power tools we have today, three men might be able to clear out 50 trees in a day. We have chain saws to cut down the trees and cut off the branches. Then a man comes in with a power caterpillar tractor and drags it all off to the burn pile.

It was hard labor also that enabled our forefathers to build roads for us. They had to clear a path through the trees to make the roads. The hills were partly leveled with dirt scoops pulled by horses. They had two handles on them that the operator lifted when he wanted it to bite the dirt and fill the scoop. Then he walked behind it while the horses pulled it down to the valley where they dumped it by lifting the two handles to make it bite the dirt and turn upside down. It would take about a half a yard of dirt at a time. The operator spent the day walking up and down the hill behind that scoop. Several other men worked with him at the same time. Today just one man with a modern earth mover in just a day or two could do what it took several men 10 or 20 days to do.

Our forefathers didn’t complain about the work they did. They did it with an eye on the future. They might have gotten paid for building roads. If they staked a claim on an acreage of forest land they had to clear the trees without getting paid for it. As they worked, they anticipated the day when the land they cleared would be green pasture or a field of corn.

Reading history makes us appreciate what we have today. We should be willing to do our part to make this world a better place for our children and grandchildren. History also helps us make wise decisions. You can’t afford to be ignorant of what history can teach you.

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