Why Do We Study History?

Why do we study history? To remember all the date of historical events or to take it as lesson learned? What are the advantages of learning history? Is it necessary for everyone to study?

I am a person who loves reading history books. I never get tired of reading it regardless of what country or regime it is. For me, the reason that I love to read the history book especially Cambodian history book is to figure out what had Khmer ancestors done in the past period of time, which made us become who we are today. I am curious of what happened in the world. How could people make this and that? More than that, I would like to know what lesson could I learn from them as a young generation. So that, I can prevent or be aware of it when it is about to happen. I am a historical lover. (I actually wanted to be an archaeologist but this idea was rejected by my parents because it’s an unfamiliar career in Cambodia.) so all I can do is to read and do research during free time.

 I would say that I have known quite enough of Cambodian history since the beginning up to now. Actually, there are hundred books that were written and published for the readers and researchers. As a reader, we cannot rely on one book to  believe or make a judgment. We need to read several books on the same topic and take it into consideration whether they all were written in the same way or how difference is it from one writer to another. If you love reading history books like me, you would definitely experience what I have experienced. Sometimes, you might get confused with the information that was written in the book. Do not believe it easily. You need to do more research or read more carefully through the references that were given in the book.

The reason I am saying this is because I want to convince that I have read enough of sources and books to before I finally come to the conclusion that I am about to describe in this post. I remember my professor once told me that you will never be able to find the accurate information of history of the regime when you are currently living in or even 50 years later. Do you know why? No doubt because historical writer could be bias due to the political influenced or was under pressured by the ones who have the power. So if you want to find out the truth, it does require a lot of effort. You need to do more research and use your critical / analytical skills to figure out; otherwise, you will never be able to understand what exactly happens.

Well… Let jump to what I want to say. Whether believe me or not, it’s your choice. I am just writing what is in my opinion base on what I have read and observed. Plus there is no offense in this post since I am talking about Cambodian history in general.

Khmer Empire was the greatest nation during pre and during Angkor era. Unfortunately,  everything has turned upside down after the post-Angkor era. Khmer kings had started to fight with their own kins because of the throne and power. From one regime to another, Khmer kings did everything just to protect their own crown even though they have to fight with their relatives, brothers, son-in-law, uncle, or cousins. They always asked for help from neighboring countries to fight with their siblings. Wasn’t it silly? From time to time, Cambodia territory tends to be smaller and smaller as Khmer kings use it as the return of the help from neighboring countries.


Photo by: https://www.facebook.com/sophal.in.75

English Translation: The cause of collapse of Angkor Empire after the end of Javavarman Regime in 1323: It was finished by Ney Chay “Mr. Chay” who Cambodian people named as “Ney Trosok Pa’Em” or “Mr. Sweet Cucumber”. Cambodian history was made up which lead to the confusion of Cambodian people because the scandal of Ney Chey after he overthrowned the King Javavarman IX.

Source: Cambodia between Thailand and Vietnam and French Colony

Author: Professor Dr. In Sophal

In my opinion, up to now, I haven’t seen any Cambodian leaders who were willing to give up anything just to protect this poor country / nation. I haven’t seen a leader who is strong enough to fight with other countries instead of their own relatives / people for the sake of this poor country. Regime has changed from time to time due to the globalization yet the characteristics of Cambodian leaders are still the same. There is more than 1000 years already since the post-Angkor era. Surprisingly, when the good leader take control of the power, there were always overthrown made by their own relatives such as uncle, brother, son-in-law, or cousin.

Cambodia used to be the most powerful empire in the region but why now we cannot do that? Why do Cambodian people still choose to ignore the problems and only care about their own benefits? When will Cambodian leaders stop being so greedy and selfish? The only word that I want to emphasize here is that THE HISTORICAL MISTAKES HAVE STILL REPEATED even in 2016. If we keep going on like this, I am afraid one day, in the future, there will be no Cambodia on the world map. Why can I make an assumption like this? Well… we can look back to the past period of time, how big was our country? Why has it become smaller from time to time? What were the reasons of that change? Has this change stopped yet or does it still continue? If it has already stopped, to what extent do you think it is possible? The same question for “does it still continues”?The history of failure has repeated again and again for more than 1000 years. Yet, it still exists and I don’t know when will this mistake come to an end. I wonder when will Cambodian leaders stop caring too much about the power or wealth but the nation and country? Who we are today and what we have today are the result of what our ancestors did. Therefore, why don’t we learn from it? Why can’t we avoid it? It doesn’t mean that our ancestors always made mistakes but it clearly means that their mistakes are the very good lesson learned for us as the new generation of Cambodian people to learn from.

Of course, this is modern society. Other country cannot invade another country by using troops or weapons or even colony. However, according to biological science, ambitious is a human nature, which leads to the existence of selfishness. So, of course, the regime has changed but the ambitious of human will never changes. It just the evolution of invade form (from using troops / weapons / colony to political influence and benefit.) Which is why I said history is really important. We need to learn from history in order to avoid repeating the same mistake again and again. If we ignore the history, we don’t know if that mistake had already happened in the past like Mr. Edmund Burke said  “Those who don’t know the history are doomed to repeat it.”

Sadly, history is not an interesting subject for most of Cambodian people even students. They barely know where do they come from and what did their ancestors do in the past period of time. Some people or youths easily believe what other people tell them. They have no idea whether what they were told was true or not. Some people said why do they have to care about history? This is not their major. This is not skill that can help them to earn income. They only care about economic, business, trade, English, technology, science, and so on. They forgot that history is what made us become who we are. economic, business, trade, language, technology, and science exist in every regime.

This should be the time for Cambodian people especially youths start to learn about their own history. Like the U.S. President, Theodore Roosevelt said “The more you know about the past, the better prepare you are for the future.”


Photo by: IZ Quotes

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6 thoughts on “Why Do We Study History?

  1. Hi Ponika,
    This is one of interesting article that able to catch my attention. When I was at school one of my favorite subject always History. From your post, at least I have little bit picture about Cambodia, speak honestly, I don’t know anything about Cambodia except, it is one of ASEAN country and located near Thailand and Vietnam.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi azurro4cielo! Thank you so much for your comment. I am so happy to know that history was your favorite subject too. Thank you for your interest in Cambodian history. I would really love to tell you anything you would like to know. You can also search for “A History of Cambodia” by David Chandler for some information about Cambodian history. Again, thank you for stopping by! Hope you have a good day! ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

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