The Importance of International History

Kathryn Barry

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History is Earth’s diary. It is the kept records throughout time describing what happened and why. This diary tells us things about our past and what events the future may hold. However, in the United States, students are usually limited to just the bare minimum concerning what controversies their 50 states and territories had to face. However, there is much more to learn about besides a single country. Learning the history of other countries pays huge dividends for people around the globe. Understanding other countries’ political controversy, failures within the region, and specific points of view during world events can show much more than one ever imagined. 

Political controversy has been embedded within our history since the beginning of time. For example, Jerusalem has been sought after for several centuries due to the fact that the religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all originated there. This has led to political controversy because countries (such as Palestine and Israel) have been fighting, negotiating treaties, and using foreign policy to take control of this sacred city. It is very important to learn about these issues, as it can show the students of the United States why their government has gotten involved with these turmoils. The background of political controversy can also show people why the Middle East is a hostile and dangerous place today. Political controversy allows people to understand why countries hold grudges and align themselves with certain countries. For example, after WWII, the United Nations was created to help keep countries’ alliances safe and promote international peace as well as healthy progress. This tidbit of history shows how trust between nations can be a priceless resource.

Another reason for studying other countries’ history is to comprehend what the nation’s point of view was, especially the perspective of the civilians. For example, in WWI, many people were divided after the sea battle of Jutland in 1916. The German population believed they won the battle of Jutland because fewer casualties were inflicted upon their soldiers and fewer battleships were lost. On the other hand, the British people believed they won the battle; they kept their supply lines open in the North Sea and the blockade of Germany’s ports continued, successfully starving Germany. This shows that the viewpoints of the people differ based on their perspective of the war. In addition, a pessimist looking at the battle could see that both sides did lose in the process. This is very valuable because it shows how different mentalities perceived victory. But, for most, more battles means more lives lost, thus exemplifying that all people usually have good intentions, despite the grudges their society may hold.

An additional valuable lesson that can be learned is what did and did not work within a nation. An example of standards not working could be exemplified by the Irish Potato Famine, which was during the years of 1845-1849. An entire harvest of potatoes across Ireland was not suitable to eat because of a late blight. This is a disease that destroys both the leaves and the edible roots of the potato plant. Many people were forced to immigrate to new countries, and those who didn’t leave usually died of starvation and sickness. It is very important to study this piece of history, as it showed other countries that an entire food source based on one singular item is disastrous. On the other hand, one idea that did work was a democratic government that the United States’ Founding Fathers created through the United States Constitution in 1776. This allowed United States citizens to have a safe and productive government, all while voting to decide how their government should be run. This shows other governments why a society-based, representative, and all-inclusive government could prevent anarchies and uprisings, while keeping their citizens content.

The diary of Earth’s history is unfathomable in magnitude. The lessons that can be learned from incidents such as political controversy, differing viewpoints, and precedents that went wrong, as well as right, can be used to shape the future. A proposal that can fix a “one-sided” history is to have special days during history class, mandated by the government, to learn about the main events in a country’s history. With this knowledge, the next generation of students, and even my generation of students can abandon their grudges and biases, which will result in a more peaceful, progressive, and positive future.