The Humanities Are not Dead
And They Never Will Be
Being an Indian teenager, I’m constantly told to try harder in school (A’s aren’t enough), that there’s nothing better than an Ivy or top school, and perhaps, most annoyingly, that I have to get an engineering degree and/or medical degree, and that if I don’t, then I most likely won’t succeed in life. While this is true for the era we live in, when I expressed my desire to maybe pursue a career in writing, my father boldly declared,
“The Era of Humanities is over. This is the Age of Science!” And in many respects, he is right. History is no longer as valued as it once was, and frankly, why should it even matter? Who cares that the Greeks were the first to invent democracy, who cares that Shakespeare wrote in Iambic Pentameter, who cares that Napoleon is about five feet tall, who CARES that there are nine circles of hell?
Now, history is a broad term, and we’ll never be able to declare it dead. Our genetic code, our DNA, is literally a history text, containing hundreds of thousands of years of evolution. It gives us a deep and meaningful insight into our past, and will continue to give us thousands upon thousands of details that could save lives. However, let’s now see history in the social studies concept. If we take the Ukraine, for example, the average schmo might not understand why the situation there is the way it is. It isn’t a simple case of Ukraine doesn’t like Russians and vice versa. The average schmo doesn’t realize how similar Ukraine and Russia really are. History tells us about their similar language, their similar religions. It also tells us that during Stalin’s regime in the Soviet Union, he created a massive genocide known as the Holodomor in Ukraine. People were forced to death by not receiving the proper nutrients needed to survive. It was genocide. The average schmo wouldn’t know that if it wasn’t for the Holodomor, Ukraine probably wouldn’t have ended up with the Crimea in the first place. History allows us to understand the mindset of the people. It’s like negotiating with a sibling- if you don’t understand why they’re acting the way they are, if you don’t understand their mindset, you will not get anywhere. The Russians haven’t truly been able to connect with Ukraine, and it’s because of their past.
However, why does English matter? Well, first and foremost, humans need language to communicate. Get rid of English, or any other language, then we lose one of the most human features. Of course, dolphins have language, and so did Neanderthals, but that’ not my point. My point is that we lose communication, and we lose emotion.
We can learn from the great poets, and the great authors, how we can present stories, how we can get people to care about things. Scientists aren’t really the greatest at this. Why is Shakespeare loved? Because his plots were engaging, and damn, could he present. If we lose our literature, then we lose a part of ourselves. Since the dawn of humans, we’ve been recording events, recording stories, so we could remember. It is our heritage. We cannot abandon it. In the Renaissance, a time of science, what brought all these discoveries to light? WRITING. What created the Dark Ages? The lack of books, and the inability to write. The success of our species has always been closely intertwined with writing. Our brain allows us to write and comprehend for a reason. Writing is information. Information is knowledge, and ultimately, knowledge is power. To give it up would be to give up our power, to give up the dominance we have on this Earth. Writing will never truly die. It will live on, because we are human. If you hate it so much, go become a robot.
Copyright 2014 Vyas Muralidharan. Work is property of Assembled Creatively/Vyas Muralidharan. Image is property of their owner. Assembled Creatively/Project SOCK/Vyas Muralidharan do not own said image.