A Love of History

This map has been making the rounds on social media.

The white dots represent the locations of battles fought during the last 4,500 years of recorded history. Before we get into a deeper analysis, look at this:

The map doesn’t really show the locations of all the earth’s battles. It only shows the locations of battles fought and won by people with a love of recorded history.

In a few bright places, cultures have arisen that love knowledge and preserve the history not just of their own people, but also the history of the vanquished. They preserve knowledge and so maintain a connection with their past.  But they don’t just preserve the memory of their own people, they preserve the history of those they defeat.

That’s really what we’re looking at here.  This is a map of places where cultures value knowledge for its own sake.  This is a map of places where cultures, for reasons both generous and petty, take the time and effort to record events for future generations.  This is a map of forward looking peoples who invest in the future.  Or perhaps it is a map of peoples generous enough to allow even their defeated rivals to preserve their own histories.

Most of the world is populated by people who celebrate victories over their rivals by erasing the people and the history of those they defeat.  Those victors eventually fall and are themselves erased from history.  This cycle repeats in most of the world, leaving most of the world unmoored from the past.

And today, the descendants of the people who delighted in the destruction of histories, defeated in their own turn, lament the end result of the actions and policies of their ancestors.  They envy the people who live in the bright spots on the map, and lacking the ability to think critically about the past or deny themselves today to invest in the future, instead seek to perpetuate the cycle of ignorance.

The white does not show where people who love battles live.

The white shows where people who love knowledge live.

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