I think pretty much everyone in the English speaking and writing world has heard the expression. I’m sure I could do a quick search and find its origin attributed to five different sources, but as I’ve made it my business to say in past, the important thing you need to know is, I’m definitely not the one who said it first.
The expression is, essentially, “Those who don’t know the past are doomed to repeat it.”
Whoever said it, however it was initially phrased, the idea is as valid as one can imagine.
If you haven’t taken time to look at history and learn at least its major lessons, chances are good you’ll fall into the same traps in which others have found themselves ensnared.
I get the desire to go out and discover for yourself, and I most particularly understand that yearning in the young.
“Surely the world is not so dangerous or problematic that I can’t just go out into it, without concern.” You might be inclined to say. Let me assure you, far too much of the time, it is.
I’m not trying to tell you one should forego traipsing out into the big wide beyond until each and every lesson of history has been learned. The reality is, considering how much having previously occurred there is to study, that’s not even possible.
Ask any historian, and you’ll quickly learn that even they tend to specialize, since even in small patches of time and space, there’s sufficient information as to make it impossible for them to know it all in their own comparatively tiny area of expertise.
That said, when you watch a person do something that well known history lessons teach against, and achieve essentially the same unfortunate result, on the one hand you may feel bad for them; on the other though, it’s hard not to believe they got what they deserved.
To me, what that means is, one ought to try to strike a balance.
Here are some ways you can achieve a little equilibrium.
To begin with, when you’re getting ready to make some sort of major decision, it’s probably in your best interest to do a little digging in order to determine what might happen as a result. You may find some super-significant, well known, message out there, or you may bump into some stories that are a little more obscure, and harder to find.
In either case, the information provided may prove invaluable as you navigate—for you at least—uncharted waters. Not every situation will be exactly the same as your own—in fact, you may find lessons in places you by no means expect them to occupy.
Many times, I’ve been considering some major direction change, only to have someone point something out I hadn’t considered, when discussing a completely different type of problem than that which I was so heavily contemplating.
If you make it your business to expect the unexpected, realizing you may get some insight from a place you had no belief would provide it to you, you may be amazed at the outcome.
Bearing that in mind, another truth is, where one needn’t be a voracious consumer of history, one ought not shy away from the trough altogether.
You may not be prone to spend a great deal of time learning about that which occurred before. Even so, it’s not a mandate you should never go and look at those things, particularly not when weighing concerns of great gravity to you.
Going in search of history for the sake of it now and then is anything but harmful (unless of course, you use doing so as an excuse to fail to accomplish essential tasks).
The more you’re able to learn in advance, the less likely you’ll be caught so badly unawares when you find yourself looking for answers to some conundrum.
In fact, taking a little time to delve into what was, can teach you things you didn’t even know you were in pursuit of.
Further, there are times when looking into history helps to make disjointed things click together for you, sometimes in ways that’ll surprise you more than a little.
I remember well, what horribly dry things high school history classes were for me. I can tell you that it needn’t at all be that way. When you realize the potential benefits of knowing the past, as well as recognizing that things about which you care, are represented sometimes in dusty old tomes, it can become almost magical to be transported back in time by what others have written or otherwise recorded.
And in the process, you may well be introduced to things that, as already stated, change your life and outlook.
I can’t begin to tell you, for example, how many people believe things political where, if they knew what was, they would have little choice but to seriously question the narratives currently in play.
Instead, for example, of blindly following those who say things about a current, past, or potentially even future leader, take the time to learn for yourself what that person’s life to this point can tell you.
Doing so—particularly if you believe much of what’s presently well traveled—may totally change your outlook.
I needn’t take the time to tell you about whom you should do your due diligence, past saying that people you now find objectionable may end up being far less so, and individuals you consider heroes and lions, may end up having far greater faults, blemishes and weaknesses than you ever could’ve imagined existed.
One very important reality though, is that where it’s entirely proper to look at the past, you should always seek to understand by their words and more importantly, their actions, who a person is today.
Who they were before can help you understand their current person, but it’s not the end of the story. The present end is who they’ve become.
So remember, if you don’t want to relive the disasters of the past, if you wish to replicate the successes of history, you should seek to understand that which has already occurred. History is not always a sign of what’s to come if you travel a well-trodden path, but at least you’ll know what’s happened before, and maybe how to make things as good or better than they’ve been.
Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.