To some, history is a sterile but necessary part of the school curriculum, to be swiftly forgotten after moving on in life, while for others it is an endless source of fascination, telling us how the world was, and how events conspired to bring us all to where we are now.
I tend to the latter view: to know where we are, and from where we begin our journey into the future, we need to know how we arrived here. And that knowledge is not merely about events, but people: all the generations that came before, their lives, their work, their journey.
Inevitably, the tracing of recent history is facilitated by one tool, and that is the ten yearly census that has been taken throughout the UK since 1801, the only exception being that the 1941 census did not take place due to the Second World War. There was even an additional census in 1966.
And the information from the census is not just useful for compiling family trees: it shows how the population has grown over time, the movement of people from land to city and then to suburb, the growth and decline of industries, and the immigration and emigration which ease of personal mobility has made a permanent feature of modern life.
We have that information because previous generations have done what most UK citizens will be doing today: completing their census form, or otherwise providing equivalent information. The resource they have left us provides an invaluable view of recent history: that which we provide today enables planning for the future.So I have no problem with participating in the 2011 Census. And I commend it to anyone and everyone, from Christian to Jedi.
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