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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 5, 2005 / 26 Nisan, 5765

What happened to history?

By Victor Davis Hanson


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Our society suffers from the tyranny of the present. Presentism is the strange affliction of assuming that all our good things were created by ourselves — as if those without our technology who came before us lacked our superior knowledge and morality.

We naturally speak of our own offspring in reverential tones. Do this or that "for the children" — youth who are the most affluent and leisured in the history of civilization. A new Medicare prescription drug benefit will add a mountain of national debt. Yet contemporary "seniors" as a group, even apart from the largess of Social Security and Medicare, are already the most insured cohort in our society.

We rarely mention our forbearers. These were the millions of less fortunate Americans who built the country, handed down to us our institutions, and died keeping them safe. Such amnesia about them was not always so. Public acknowledgment of prior generations characterized the best orations of Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy, who looked for guidance from, and gave thanks to, their ancestors.

We rarely do. We argue endlessly over the academic freedom of a Ward Churchill —plagiarist and faker — as he becomes famous for calling the 3,000 murdered on 9/11 "little Eichmanns." Few in the debate pause, if just for a moment, to think of the thousands of now anonymous Americans blown apart over Berlin or on Okinawa to ensure that we can freely embarrass ourselves over this charlatan.

Why do we not carry with us at the least the whispers of those who gave us what we have, from the Hoover Dam and Golden Gate Bridge to penicillin and relief from polio? In part, it is a simple ignorance of real history. The schools and university curricula today are stuffed with therapy — drug counseling, AIDS warnings, self-improvement advice, sex education, women's/gay/Chicano/African-American/Asian/peace/urban/environmental/leisure studies. These are all well-meaning and nice -isms and -ologies that once would have been seen as either non-academic or left to the individual, family or community. But in the zero-sum game of daily instruction, something else was given up — too often knowledge of the past.

What history we know we often judge as illiberal, forgetting that we are the beneficiaries of past sacrifices and wealthy largely because of the toil of others far less secure. History is also not easy melodrama, but rather tragedy.

It was hard for women to be fully equal in the pre-industrial world of rampant disease and famine, when they were pregnant 15 or so times to ensure that three to four children survived to keep the family alive. In the so-called intolerant past, nine out of 10 Americans worked on the farm until dark just to feed the populace; less than 1 out of 100 do it now. Before dismissing them as hopelessly biased, sexist, superstitious or prejudiced, at least concede that most of us sensitive suburbanites would collapse after a few minutes of scything, threshing, milling and baking to get our daily loaf.

To appreciate the value of history, we must also accept that human nature is constant and fixed across time and space. Our kindred forefathers in very dissimilar landscapes were nevertheless subject to the same emotions of fear, envy, honor and shame as our own.

In contrast, if one believes human nature is malleable — or with requisite money and counseling can be "improved" — then history becomes just an obsolete science. It would be no different from 18th-century biology before the microscope or early genetics without knowledge of DNA. Once man before us appears alien, the story of his past has very little prognostic value.

Finally, there is a radically new idea that most occurrences of the past are of equal interest — far different from the Greeks' notion that history meant inquiry about "important" events that cost or saved thousands of lives, or provided ideas and lessons that transcended space and time.

The history of the pencil, girdle or cartoon offers us less wisdom about events, past and present, than does knowledge of U.S. Grant, the causes of the Great Depression or the miracle of Normandy Beach. A society that cannot distinguish between the critical and the trivial of history predictably will also believe that a Scott Peterson deserves as much attention as the simultaneous siege of Fallujah, or that a presidential press conference should be preempted for Paris Hilton or Donald Trump.

Reverence for those who came before us ensures humility about our own limitations. It restores confidence that far worse crises than our own — slavery, the great flu epidemic, or World War II — were endured by those with far less resources at their disposal. By pondering those now dead, we create a certain pact: that we, too, will do our part for another generation not yet born to enjoy the same privilege of America, which at such great cost was given to us by others whom we have all but now forgotten.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and military historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. Comment by clicking here.


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