221. "The chief benefit of the study of history is to break down the illusion that people in one period of time are significantly different from people who lived at any other time in history."
1. I agree with the statement insofar as through the earnest study of human history we learn that basic human nature—our desires and motives, as well as our fears and foibles—has remained constant over recorded time.
2. However beneficial it might be to appreciate the unchanging nature of humankind, it is equally beneficial to understand and appreciate significant differences between peoples of different time periods—in terms of cultural mores, customs, values and ideals.
Another problem with the statement is that it undervalues other, equally important benefits of studying history.
11. "All nations should help support the development of a global university designed to engage students in the process of solving the
world's most persistent social problems."
1. First, participant nations would need to overcome a myriad of administrative and political impediments.
2. A second problem inherent in establishing a global university involves the risk that certain intellectual and research avenues would become officially sanctioned while others of equal or greater potential value would be discouraged, or perhaps even proscribed.
3. A final problem with a global university is that the world’s preeminent intellectual talent might be drawn to the sorts of problems to which the university is charged with solving, while parochial social problem go unsolved.
13. "Many of the world's lesser-known languages are being lost as fewer and fewer people speak them. The governments of countries in which these languages are spoken should act to prevent such languages from becoming extinct."
I agree insofar as a country's indigenous and distinct languages should not be abandoned and forgotten altogether. At some point, however, I think cultural identity should yield to the more practical considerations of day-to-day life in a global society.
1. On the one hand, the indigenous language of any geographical region is part-and-parcel of the cultural heritage of the region's natives.
2. Another important reason to prevent the extinction of a language is to preserve the distinct ideas that only that particular language can convey.
3. On the other hand, in today's high-tech world of satellite communications, global mobility, and especially the Internet, language barriers serve primarily to impede cross-cultural communication, which in turn impedes international commerce and trade.
4. Moreover, language barriers naturally breed misunderstanding, a certain distrust and, as a result, discord and even war among nations.
5. Furthermore, in my view the extinction of all but a few major languages is inexorable--as supported by the fact that the Internet has adopted English as its official language. Thus by intervening to preserve a dying language a government might be deploying its resources to fight a losing battle, rather than to combat more pressing social problems--such as hunger, homelessness, disease and ignorance--that plague nearly every society today.