Do you get the sinking feeling that the world is going to Hell in a hand basket of late? Well, you’re not alone, those of us who have watched history repeat itself over and over again in our life times, are indeed more than a little disturbed by events since the turn of the century. We had great visions of a grand new world where peace would reign and we’d finally enjoy an era of worldwide prosperity.
Instead, the first decade of the 21st century seems to have brought us a general melt-down on all sides…global as well as local. We’ve seen enough war and destruction to fill a library of books rivaling War and Peace in sheer volume. And it doesn’t stop with global issues. Even our families and neighborhoods are at odds with each other. Control and dominance is pervasive everywhere.
In the midst of all the negatives, memories of Sr. Mary’s history classes keep haunting me. She was one stern history teacher. Few of my high school teachers were as demanding as she. Oh, how we hated memorizing all those dates! And, her exams were something else! It wasn’t enough to know the dates…we knew we’d be expected to deliver written essays on the pros and cons, whys and wherefores of wars and famines in bygone eras…stuff that "nobody cares about today". But she stood firm. "History repeats itself," she’d tell us. "You must understand the past if you expect to build a better future."
I know, for a fact, she wouldn’t much approve of "sound bytes" that we get for news today. Heck, if we’d tried to slap together anything like the news reports we get in today’s media we would have been assured an "F".
So, even though I’m not a particularly political type person, I’m truly glad that we have the internet and well-stocked libraries. It does take some digging to get past the media hype and claptrap, but we can drill down to get to the story behind the story if we really want to. And, in doing so, we can bring perspective to our present human condition. Because, Sr. Mary was right… history does repeat itself…the more things change…the more they remain the same.
The great orator Cicero (106-143 B.C.) had much the same concerns we have today. He’s said to have complained, "Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book…."
Just look how far we’ve come from there. ‘spose we can finally achieve the kind of change that will make a difference this time? Hope springs eternal.