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Why the past is important to the present – Part 2

As an archaeologist, I am constantly flooded with reminders of the past, some of which I purposely seek.  Some of them are accidental, perhaps coincidental.  These ones are from modern media, which, I have come to realize, may be the only way that people can understand and appreciate the lessons from the past.  I don’t think anyone can truly define themselves without understanding their history, and I don’t think we can improve as individuals without learning from our mistakes.  This includes not only our immediate past (what just happened 10 minutes ago or last week) but also our distant past (what happened to our grandparents, and their grandparents).  All of it helps us to understand who we are and how we can improve as individuals and as a society.

This first example is the Fab Five documentary by ESPN, which took us back to the early ’90s when a young group of  freshmen ignited the world of college basketball.  If you’re not familiar with the Fab Five, Google them, Bing them, whatever takes your fancy, and watch this film.  It shows how influential and influenced young people can be, how people deal with pressure and strife, how life can be too good to be true and how life is indeed a roller coaster.  Indirectly, what I got out of it is the importance of brotherhood and teamwork.  The timeout incident did not lose the game.  The TEAM lost the game.  Simply stated, if they had all played better, they would’ve won.

The second example is the book Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Ronsay.  I finished it in two reading sessions; didn’t want to put it down.  Two things amazed me here, the first being that in this day and age, there are people that do not know about the holocaust.  Come on.  Secondly, it amazed me how the absence of knowledge can create such a void in one’s being.  I honestly don’t think it’s universal, perhaps people choose to avoid it; but once you get a taste, you want to know as much as you can about your past.  It’s what creates the present and guides the future.

The last example is that sometimes, the past is just plain cool.  People simply love to look at cool sh*t!  And this inspires people to be even more creative than those before them.  It is the past directly influencing the future.  Of course, people have different definitions of cool, but you should check out this article by local archaeologist, Brad Himour, part of the centennial celebration of Parks Canada in Canadian Geographic.  I think you will agree, it’s pretty darn cool… in a nerdy kind of way.

Stay tuned… I’ll show you some really cool stuff.

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