History’s Compass

Chances are you have heard the comment that basketball star Kobe Bryant made to a reporter after he and his Laker teammates recently went on a team-bonding outing to see the film Lincoln.  If not, Bryant reportedly said, “I don’t know if the guys knew who he was … It came as a big shock to them when he was killed.”

Whether he was kidding or not, a little bit of the history teacher in me died when I read that.

Sure, it’s funny, but Bryant’s comment is also worthy of inclusion in that Sports Illustrated section called “Signs of the Apocalypse.”

While historians often cite Santayana’s pedagogical warning as a reason to study history — “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” — historian Arthur Schlesinger said something over 25 years ago in a Boston Globe Magazine (11/29/87) interview that inspired me enough to write it down in one of the (too) many journals I keep.  It took me a while, but I was able to put my hands on it this afternoon.  Consider Schlesinger’s quote:

“History is to a nation what memory is to an individual.  An individual who has no memory becomes disoriented, and I believe that the same thing will happen to a nation that has no memory.”

Maybe it’s time for a new version of Trivial Pursuit… How about Significant Pursuit?  Not only does everybody have to play.  Everybody has to win.

Onward,  Malcolm Gauld