Why David McCullough Can’t Sleep

Here is John Stonestreet and Roberto Rivera on why David McCullough can’t sleep:

The Danger of Forgetting History

According to Pew Research, fewer and fewer American adults have a working historical knowledge of the Holocaust. While most of us have general knowledge about the time period, more than half do not know how many Jews were killed or how Hitler came to power. We’d be foolish to not connect our growing ignorance of history with the rise of anti-Semitism that we see around the world and even here in the United States.

In fact, renowned historian David McCullough recently admitted that the connection between our historical forgetfulness and current events keeps him up at night.

Specifically, he said, our leaders “have forgotten about history. They are unaware of the past, and uninterested in how they will be remembered in the future.”

To be clear, the amnesia we see in our leaders is the fruit of the problem, not the root. The root, as McCullough expressed at the most recent National Book Festival, lies in deeper structural realities, especially the lack of attention given to history in American schools.

“Eighty percent of our colleges don’t require history courses,” McCullough lamented, before adding, “That’s wrong.”

McCullough is right. It is wrong. And dangerous. As philosopher George Santayana famously put it, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Or as Mark Twain (probably) said, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.”

Unfortunately, we don’t seem very committed to remembering the past, as is obvious from how very committed we are to rejecting it, especially anything that smacks of traditional morality. G.K. Chesterton called tradition “the democracy of the dead,” and wisely advised that “Before you remove a fence, you should ask why it is there in the first place.”

Read more or listen to the article: Breakpoint

Image credit: Wikipedia.