" Some educators do not believe in spending too much time on the study of history as they think no one has enough time to learn what had happened, what is happening now and what may happen in the future. It would be more profitable to be posted on what is going on at the present and, if he has some spare time, to speculate what will transpire later. Well, they may be right about it, but for myself I still believe in knowing some facts about the past, because the knowledge of the past is often necessary in diagnosing correctly the nature of present conditions and making intelligent prediction of the future.
Just looking at things at a close range is apt to make the observer lose the sense of perspective and judgement of proportion. I do not want to spend all my time in the study of history of the dead past but some knowledge of it is essential in the accurate analysis of the situation which confronts us now.
When a physician is called in at the time of sickness the most important thing for him to find out is what is causing the trouble so that he may apply the correct treatment. But if he knows something about the past history of the patient he is more apt to formulate the right treatment. For that reason all physicians try to obtain the personal and family history of their patients whenever possible.
Diagnoses and treatment of a sick nation require the same logic. No one can restore ailing nations to health unless he understands the history of that nation and what has brought on the present trouble as an immediate cause or excitant. It is also known to all that many sick nations have regained their health and become an active and respected member in the family of nations. Knowing these to be facts no courageous person should get discouraged or disheartened over misfortunes of the country which he loves.
Most nations get sick in certain periods of their history, but it is neither necessary nor wise for their people to deem the case hopeless. On the contrary, it is their duty to find out the cause of the trouble and remove it so that the country may be restored to health and vigor. That was my belief and it is my belief today. Perhaps very few men have had as many disappointments and setbacks in life as I have, but I am still hopeful that Korea may rise up again from the ashes as a rejuvenated young old nation.
We may not realize it, but I feel that there is a revolutionary spirit which gradually but inexorably is pervading in different parts of the world. Communism, fascism, naziism and many other ideologies which we hear of every day are an indication of the restlessness that is gripping a large portion of the world's population who are groping in the dark for a solution to their troubles and ailments. Those of us who are living in the UNited States are blessed with an abundance of material resources and governed with a fair degree of justice so that we are not actually in want of necessities of subsistence, nor are we being unduly oppressed by those who have more advantages than we have, therefore we believe in democracy, and we want no radical changes in political, social or economic institutions as they are today. In other words, we take a conservative view of life. However, we must not shut our eyes to the deplorable conditions that exist in many parts of the world where political, social and economic injustice is grinding down millions of human beings. As long as there is oppression, injustice, and denial of human rights there will be a destructive force which will keep the whole world in turmoil." (The New Korea, November 9, 1939/ My Days in Korea and Other Essays by Philip Jaisohn, M.D. Edited by Sun-pyo Hong Yonsei Univ Press pg. 144)
Is history worth learning then? Does Dr. Jaisohn message still apply to today's current events?