Narrow-mindedness might be a problem for people who don’t read history. Or, if they do, they might still have a provincial historical world view if their only history-reading experience has been in one single version of history, like history textbooks in Chinese schools. In both cases, they tend to be intolerant of other people who they think are “different”. And, by looking only inwardly, they run the risk of losing the historical threads where their own world fits.
Instead, if people understood the historical contexts in which the world has existed, they would have a much clearer and different view on almost everything. Reading history gives people a revealing historical perspective.
We the Chinese are justifiably proud of only our long history that has extended for thousands of years running. For most of our history, China was a world leader in science, technology, economy, and military power and maintained a regional hegemony dynasty after dynasty.
This, in fact, is a mixed blessing and was precisely why China’s leading advantage began to disappear when the people in West Europe were forced to revolutionize their technological, scientific, cultural, social, political, economic, and military systems under the huge pressures of invading nomadic tribes. After their land routes to the East had been cut off by roaming barbarians, they started to open up sea routes that they hoped would lead them to their trading partners in the faraway East. While being self-sufficient and self-centered, China, a haven tucked away in a safe Eurasian corner, was strong enough to repel or assimilate any invading nomads from only the north and didn’t feel the need to change at all.
Time went by, as it ever did.
Finally, when a static, agricultural China came into contact with a dynamic, industrialized West whose opium cargos and gunships arrived by sea from the other end of the Eurasian landmass, its world soon crumbled.
Then, it took China more than a century to gather itself and stand on its feet again only less than 60 years ago, which we should remember.