“We spend a great deal of time studying history, which, let’s face it, is mostly the history of stupidity.” (Stephen Hawking speaking at the Cambridge University)
First of all what we call ‘history’ is not what had happened but a story comprising the subjects some of us had chosen to write about, in the manner they saw fit to do it.
Secondly, until very recently most people had a very vague – and heavily biased – idea about what had happened in their past.
Only in the last two hundred years or so a very small number of people have started to study what had happened in their past in a value neutral manner and, unfortunately, their efforts are still being disparaged by many and ignored by a vast majority.
Coming back to Hawking’s words, I must admit that we, as a species, have done indeed a lot of stupid things.
But, as a whole, the sum of our deeds is far from being negative.
After all… we’re still here, aren’t we?
And, despite the huge amount of misery that is still being experienced by a lot of us, we are doing better than our great parents used to do.
So it is hard for me to agree with Hawking on this subject.
He is right about one thing though.
We are currently doing a very stupid thing indeed.
Our ancestors had the excuse that historical information was very scarce.
This is no longer the case.
While they could have claimed ‘innocence’ when re-enacting an error that had already been committed we no longer have that luxury. We should have known better since it is a lot easier for us to learn than it was for our great-parents.
We really need to stop ignoring the lessons we have at our disposal.
And there’s something else which further complicates the situation.
We have become so powerful that our mistakes can have far worse repercussions than any of our ancestors ever had.
So while I don’t think our history is that full of ‘stupidy’ as Hawking believes it to be I share his concerns about the stupid things we may be making in the future if we don’t wake up and start learning from the stupid enough mistakes we have already done.
As I said before, we make our own history.
We do the things that will constitute tomorrow’s history and we write the story of things that constitute our past.
Let’s not do, nor write, a ‘stupid’ one.