The modern world has a nonstop stream of news coming into our homes day and night via television, the internet and even on our cell phones. We live in an eternal present and many of us have either forgotten the past that created the world we live in or have never known it.

Recent history is unknown

The students who are about to graduate with university degrees were born after the fall of the Berlin Wall and therefore have no memories of the Cold War. The teenagers in school who read the newspaper articles of terrorism and religious fanaticism do not remember that when their parents were growing up and dating that Europe was beset by terrorism from Northern Ireland, Italy’s Red Brigades and Germany’s Red Army Faction, to mention only three groups.

The young people who look at the map of the world trouble spots do not see that they coincide with former colonies of the United States and the European powers, or that the one-time colonial masters never stopped interfering in their politics. They see only the daily violence and do not understand the role their own countries played in creating it.

The constant news streams, particularly those of the social media which are often false were nothing more than fabrications and deliberately misleading, give little or no background to the events covered and even if they did the users have neither the time nor patience to look it up. This lack of knowledge of the past, or should I say of world #history, is a major cause of fear for the present which increases with every new item that hits our screens.

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While many have unhappy memories of studying dates and places during History classes at school, a proper study of the subject would have a much more important effect than simply knowing the background to the news items. History is also being able to read and assess the material available and to be able to judge the matters under discussion. This would effectively be part of the solution for resolving the problem of #False news on sites such as #Facebook which are currently subject to criticism because of the many false news sources present there.

Judging news by history

If they studied History properly, the young people who use Facebook would know Facebook was duped by a totally false story, as well as some of the highly partisan news channels, as their primary source of news would know that the religious aspects of world politics have never been limited to solely one faith as some journalists and even politicians state constantly to justify their personal prejudices. The terrorism of Northern Ireland was between Catholics and Protestants and even caused the assassination of a member of the British Royal family and that not so long ago a religious war occurred in the Balkans where Christian groups massacred large numbers of Moslems.

The great grandchildren of those who fought the last World War do not know of the horrific refugee crisis caused by that war and how it was resolved. The grandchildren of those who fought for civil rights in the United States do not know what led to these struggles and that they too must fight for their rights. The grandchildren of those who fought the Vietnam War do not know of the divisions of society in those years and that peace can only be achieved by struggle and determination.

History teaches us what can work to find real and lasting solutions and what will make things worse. At the same time, we must not make the mistake of using History to justify crimes against Humanity, as some do at great cost of human life as we saw in the Balkans, but to ensure that they never happen again.

We must understand that every moment of our lives and our every action is History and that we humans have the capacity to face up to the challenges that so frighten us. Being informed and understanding our past is the first real step to finding solutions and defeating the fear created by the news. The past not only made our present, it can also help us to make our future even better.