History repeats itself. I’ve heard this many times in my life, and the more I learn about the world, the more I start to believe it. It can come in the form of interaction with friends and family, or watching governments make the same mistakes that have happened in the past. Regardless, the more I see, the more I realize that knowledge of our past can tell a grasping story of what the future holds.
While visiting Phnom Penh in Cambodia, I found out how little I knew about the nation I was visiting. Though I had a great time trekking in the north, and seeing what natural beauties the country had to offer, I knew very little about its gruesome history. I had no idea about the magnitude of the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge during the late '70s.
What happened during the time of the Khmer Rouge was disgusting. The three and half years of the killing fields, when over 1.7 million Cambodians perished, is absolutely tragic. The sad truth is, though, that this isn’t the first time it has happened. Genocide is something that has happened in multiple time periods, in multiple cultures. As the haunting voice said over the speakers at the end of the tour, this is not the last genocide the world will see, either.
I’m not saying that becoming a history buff will curb crimes against humanity. I do, however, believe that robust knowledge of our past can garner a much brighter present and future. Learning about our ancestors, mixed with a healthy dose of knowledge of our neighbors, is a great recipe in creating a cosmopolitan society worth living in.