Humanity stuck in historical loop Education creates escape

Chloe Ward, Reporter

     “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,”– a quote from philosopher George Santayana, who lived during the late 19th century. It has been over 150 years since those words were spoken, and yet, they must be repeated still. 

     The human experience is universally the same cycle of interests, conflicts, and emotions, regardless of the time period. Each generation tends to have a belief that they are superior, know more, and can change the historical loop humanity has lodged themselves into. However, they only continue to hold the same trends and beliefs as the last. The only way to logically prevent this repetition is to become educated in history– beyond high school history class.

     Examples of the lack of education repeating this cycle are more recent than most like to admit. During Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Putin gained control over the Chernobyl power plant, historically known for its dangerously high radiation levels after the Soviet designed reactor meltdown in 1986. During the invasion, armed Russian soldiers occupied the area, and began to engage in reckless behavior. Using military vehicles, they pushed up large columns of dust, drenched in radioactive energy. The place they were driving in was the Red Forest, a 10km wide area in the plant that was tainted with so much radiation, the trees went red. Not even Chernobyl workers are allowed in the area. It carries the majority of its radiation in soil, and Russian soldiers drove through it recklessly, completely unaware of the massive amounts of lethal energy that was buried underneath ( 

      Education has failed these soldiers. Had they been even informed on the history of a country they are neighbors with, they would not have been exposed to the energy. The case is extreme, but this trend is prevalent throughout every generation, which is why the same history is endlessly repeated. 

     The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech maintanis a program called “History Repeating”, which accentuates the importance of learning history for the sake of a better future ( Students have conducted research and assembled reports and projects that illuminate the past and present as an intertwined everlasting cycle, and what a modern audience can do to put a pin in it. 

     History is one of the more challenging subjects to remember, and is summarized in a classroom setting for the sake of time and testing. The potential of the benefits that learning history can grant should not be assumed based on high school level history classes. While they are beneficial, they do not explore the human experience side of history, causing many to lose interest in learning the mistakes of their ancestors. By being exposed to the concepts and hardships that have been passed down for generations, the cycle can be stopped. Discrimination, war, philosophy– the same issues are discussed time and time again.