By Bryan Hyde

History can be a magnificent mentor for those willing to study it patiently and deliberately.


At the same time, history itself does not teach lessons. 

Historians will do their best to construct a plausible and comprehensive narrative based on the evidence available in their time. But no matter how sincere or scholarly their efforts, subjective perceptions and judgments will always creep in.

This means that we have to become students of history and to apply our own reasoning in order to learn from it.

We must be willing to seek to understand historical events from the viewpoint of the participants according to their understanding at the time the events were actually taking place.


By doing our own research and study of original sources, we get a sense of what was in the hearts and minds of the participants. We learn how they thought, what they valued and what they thought of themselves.

This teaches us much more than we can learn from a dry ledger sheet of chronological events.

It also helps us resist the temptation to apply our hindsight to those who came before us. We learn to see events through their eyes.

Instead of ascribing evil and ignorance to their thinking, we find that they were simply fallible human beings doing the best they could according to what they knew at the time.

We can only hope that future generations with greater hindsight will extend the same courtesy to us.  

* Hyde In Plain Sight is written by KDXU personality Bryan Hyde. Catch his daily HIPS vignette at 7:50-ish every weekday morning on KDXU and listen to The Bryan Hyde Show weekends at 7 p.m. Saturday and 6 p.m. Sunday nights.

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