These days, it’s extremely easy to get all of your entertainment needs met courtesy of the TV (or the web-based streaming services that you watch via your TV), or the cinema.
Sometimes, the stories you see on the screen will be deep, historically accurate and relevant, and artfully portrayed. But often enough, they’re going to be pretty formulaic, bland, and repetitive.
Since the dawn of time, human beings have loved to gather around and tell, and listen to, stories. It’s what our most distant ancestors were doing around the campfire aeons ago, and it’s what we still do today on a regular basis, in different forms.
Stories can entertain, but they can also teach. And there’s a special place for stories that have a real historical basis.
Here’s why you should dedicate more of your time to reading historical stories.
Because reading specific stories about horrific events from the past, can allow us to learn painfully-won lessons second hand
History is full of wars, atrocities, plays, and hardships of assorted kinds. And though it’s not generally going to be pleasant to read stories about those situations, it’s important to realise that the tales that come down to us from tough times in the past, often contain hard-won lessons.
Alas, many of these tales only last a few generations before being more or less lost or forgotten. How many WW2 veterans are still alive? The answer is about 3% of the number that were around right after the end of the war.
When you read about a famous last stand, or a siege, or a plague, or an invasion, from a first-hand historical account, you allow yourself the possibility of learning some of those hard-won lessons, second hand, without having to relive the situation yourself.
Because learning about history can help us to keep a proper sense of perspective today
We are all prone to get caught up in our own everyday preoccupations, fixations, and concerns, and to lose perspective of the “bigger picture.”
When times are especially difficult in our own lives, it can be very hard to find anything to be grateful for, or to gain a sense of what we may be able to achieve, when all is said and done.
Reading historical stories, and learning about history in general, can help us to keep a proper sense of perspective today, in the here and now. When you read the accounts of people who have lived through truly dreadful situations, you’re less likely to complain and feel sorry for yourself. And when you read stories of people overcoming all the odds, maybe you’ll be more inspired to pursue your own dreams, with courage and enthusiasm.
Because reality is sometimes stranger than fiction
When all is said and done, everyone likes a good story – and that’s a major part of the reason why the film and TV industries are so huge, and why so many people got so invested in watching Game of Thrones.
As mentioned earlier in this article, though, film and TV are often at risk of becoming formulaic, and of repeating the same patterns and tropes, endlessly.
Often, if you want a really original and incredible tale, it pays to look at authentic stories from history. Because, reality is sometimes stranger than fiction, and a lot of crazy stuff has happened in the past.