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Time for a new renaissance...

  • Vanessa Hernandez

Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it - George Santayana.

How many times have you heard that phrase? I bet, many. Mostly by people with a "know-it-all" complex, who with a grin on their faces go around repeating " I told you so" to anybody they can find. I only wish they would walk the talk.
In the age of information, I find it ironic that we still make pretty basic mistakes. As in school we were forced to learn pointless dates for events that were overall inconsequential to our childhood when naturally we were more interested in having a good time with our friends.

And now, even though we have access to an ocean of information, we consider history a dull and pointless subject we were forced to learn back in school and as a result, we do not use it to our benefit to learn what mistakes have been made in the past and how not to make them again. 

I believe history should be taught in universities compulsorily, after we have gained more life experience to better understand  why our predecessors took the actions they took and understand the consequences they faced for their decisions. 

I have always been fascinated by history, and I was lucky to take a road trip to Tuscany, Italy. From Florence all the way down to Rome, passing through Pisa, Chianti, the Italian Alps and Val D'Orcia. 

It is the beginning of summer in Florence, the city of the Italian Renaissance, but despite the heat, you can see hundreds of people queuing for hours to get inside museums, art galleries, the most famous of all the Ufuzzi Gallery. The city is flooded with art  created hundreds of years ago, during a period of history historians call "the Renaissance." 

There is much debate whether the Renaissance was a real historical period in human history, but most of us will agree it was an intellectual movement. 

The most significant changes that emerged as a result of the Renaissance can be seen in European architecture, art, literature, mathematics, music, philosophy, politics, religion and science. 

Combined with this influx of classical ideas was the invention of printing, which facilitated the dissemination of the printed word and democratized learning.

While exploring Florence, I wonder what inspired those people to create such marvels? I would like to clarify I am not romanticizing "the better old times" - rather trying to understand the context which gave rise to such creativity.

But I couldn't help but wonder. In the future, when people look back on our historical period, what will the central defining feature be?

I know I am overreacting, but it does feel like the Dark Ages a lot lately. Don't you think?

But what were the Dark Ages? It was the period that preceded the Renaissance. It lasted for approximately 1000 years, from the 5th century to the 15th century.

The Dark Ages were smeared by the fall of the Roman empire and hence prosperity and growth in Europe came to a halt. Along with slow economic growth came social unrest. It was indeed a period of recession and crisis. 

And Feudalism was a form of government in which the country was dominated by an absolute monarch, in which all power was held within a single king. The monarch would rule over the country while the rest  were bound by a hierarchical system in which people were placed into classes in which they were born.  For example, under Feudalism, most people were peasants who worked tirelessly on farms of local lords. 

Sounds familiar? Maybe your local lord is your line manager!

After learning all of this, I hope our dark age does not last 1000 years and, when people look back at the historical period, we are living in. The defining feature was the fact that we did face social unrest, economic instability, our planet was suffering, but just as our predecessor, we created another Renaissance. 

A Renaissance in which countries' national budget prioritised the well-being of the society without having to be labelled as 'evil' socialism because that is why people pay taxes. A 21st Century Renaissance in which we use cleaner technologies not because one lobby won the debate whether it is man-made or it is a natural process caused by our planet itself but because we should use what is more efficient, not something that makes a few people more prosperous. 
The 21st Century Renaissance where the integrity of a person was not defined by the country, their name, religion, social class or color of their skin but by how he or she treats others. 

I would like to think the defining feature of this historical period could be the fact that we learn how to live in relation to each other, ourselves and the planet. 

Humankind still believes in a lot of archaic and unfounded ideas. Time to unlearn. 

Call me crazy for wanting all of this but remember Galileo Galilei was ordered to turn himself into the Holy Office to begin trial for holding the belief that the Earth revolves around the Sun and was convicted of heresy, that is, of having believed and held a doctrine which was supposedly false and contrary to the Holy and Divine Scriptures.

All of this does not make him less right.


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