(by Tomas Payne)
History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does illustrate human behavior over time. If we choose not to learn from history, if we bury our heads, then we tend to repeat the mistakes of the past.
Here’s a mantra: We live during tough times. Yet it was hard for the first immigrants who set foot on this land. It was dangerous for those on the wagon trains heading west. It was rough for the farmers when they left their homes and moved to the cities in search of work. We perceive our times as tougher because we’re living through them and we don’t know how this will turn out.
We tend to forget that America became great by individuals and groups overcoming adversity. Perhaps part of our angst comes from not having to face the clear hardships that our ancestors did, where there was no turning back. When they lost their jobs or the dustbowl took their farms, there was no safety net. They had to move on and do the best they could. Hardships gave their lives clarity and straightforward direction we often find lacking today. Few of us would want to return to what they faced but perhaps we can learn from their experiences.
It’s true that today’s events seem to happen faster than ever, yet is that any more disruptive than when our ancestors got on a boat, crossed the ocean, and faced an uncertain future in a new land? They did so because often they saw no better option. They were motivated to take personal risks. They plunged into uncertain futures.
Indeed, times have changed. We live in a global society with rapid communication that bombards us daily with terror and dismay. It tempts us with toys and wealth, if only …
Most Americans live much better than their counterparts 100 years ago, with indoor plumbing, air conditioning, refrigeration, vehicle transportation, cell phones, and countless appliances to make our lives easier. Yet, we are enticed to want more than we can afford, which leads us to despair. Our ancestors crossed oceans for less than we have today. Yet many of us today would not consider moving twenty miles for a better opportunity.
We lose faith in the future and become fearful, pining for a past shrouded in myth, a past that never was, when life was simpler and we didn’t have the problems we face today. We the people look for answers while those who represent us announce that they have the cure to what ails us. In fact, they tell us that what ails us is what they have a solution to.
“Vote for me and I’ll make your worries go away.” Just don’t ask too many inconvenient questions.
For more, check out Side Effects: What Candidates Don’t Tell You: