Wednesday, July 18, 2012

“Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.” ―

George Santayana’s often repeated quote is simple to understand. Learn from history of be doomed to repeat it. It is difficult to learn from history without knowledge of history. Sadly, this is where we begin. There is a lack of historical knowledge. Why does it matter?
Suppose you trip over a rock and fall into the mud. Every person walking down that same path trips over the same rock and falls into the same mud. Because nobody remembers the ‘history’ of walking down that path, everyone trips and falls into the mud every single day.

So here we are: walking down a path that was walked before. The same rock and the same mud await.
Let me put it another way.

“For a while, it seemed impossible to lose money on real estate. But then the bubble burst. The financial sector was paralyzed and the economy contracted. State and federal governments struggled to pay their domestic and foreign creditors. Washington was incapable of decisive action. The country seethed with political and social unrest[1].”  The time was 1837. Read it again and think about how this knowledge of history may have influenced those that lost a fortune on real-estate investments at the turn of this century.
Patriotism, respect for the military, love of capitalism, love of democracy are all admirable qualities and perhaps our finest characteristic as a people. Knowledge of history reveals how we allow these sacred beliefs to be misused to manipulate us.

There are many valid viewpoints about taxes, healthcare, and war, providing for the elderly, providing for the disabled, religion and immigration. Although we may engage in heated discussions and arguments, we must never be unwilling to consider another point of view and the possibility of compromise.

On July 4th, we celebrate the compromise known as The Declaration of Independence. For almost a year, the Founding Fathers argued over the wording. Jefferson was frustrated as his original document was edited and changed.
We treasure the compromise of The Constitution of the United States. It took over 168 days to write the Constitution and there were many, many revisions. Each version required compromises.

We’ve been a nation of one people from many lands that argue, disagree and reach compromises. Politics is said to be the art of compromise. Dictatorships and fanciest regimes lack compromise.

[1] America's First Great Depression

Economic Crisis and Political Disorder after the Panic of 1837

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