The world is more connected than ever before. Yes, that line has probably been said more times than can be physically counted. Yet, as a planet, most of us don’t know where we came from. Not as individuals, but our societies, cultures, countries and religions. People are often oblivious to historical knowledge. Most of us have smart phones that we carry with us wherever we go, yet we look at them as simple voice and communication devices. How many people out of the millions that own a smart phone consider the palm-sized devices to be more than just granting them the ability to connect socially?
In reality, your phone essentially has access to the collective knowledge of humankind. This isn’t to say that using a phone is the most ideal way to learn history — though the point stands. We have access to a wealth of human knowledge, but intellectual pursuits seem to be fading into the background behind entertainment and social media.
Of course I am not saying that people should one hundred per cent of the time focus on absorbing and learning new information, but I do believe that it is incredibly sad that more people don’t choose not to learn.
Personally, I would be a very different person without history. I am, simply put, inspired by the past. The prospect of other civilisations existing before us, creating and thinking, living and breathing in a different time is truly magnificent. Although I feel like it is mostly forgotten.
Everyone has heard of Julius Caesar in some fashion, most likely through some Hollywood portrayal or television show. You would know that he was assassinated and that it took place in the Senate. However, did you know that Caesar’s assassination in 44BC was carried out to preserve the Republic and the senatorial elite’s power? Caesar’s policies were seen to align with Tiberius Gracchus, a radical who sort to improve conditions for everyday citizens. Tiberius was murdered years before Caesar was born, though both of their policies were untraditional. Both men were murdered because of this. Julius Caesar’s murder, in short, brought about the the fall of the Republic quicker than it would have if he were left to remain dictator for life. After Caesar’s death, his adopted son, Octavian, pushed the Republic until it toppled. He became Augustus, the first Emperor of Rome. This meant that the Romans were back to having a single ruler as they had before the Republic, when it was ruled by kings. From Rome’s estimated founding in 753BC, a supposed number of seven kings ruled before “internal upheaval” that led to the fall of the monarchy, and the establishment of a Republic in 509BC.
In one brief paragraph, you may have learnt more about Caesar and Rome than what you previously knew. I used my phone to source the historical information. It is unbelievable how easy it is to explore the ancient Roman world on a device that fits inside my pocket. But the ancient Romans are not the only civilisation to suffer from neglect. There are countless stories of incredible past events that remain unknown to many people. In a way, I feel like the technological society we have created has led to people genuinely not realising that human being haven’t always lived like this. Try to imagine how your perspective could change if you used the time on your phone, or your computer, to learn about the past. I know that it helps me when I begin to under-appreciate what I have in the present.
Words by Mathew Lambrou