We cannot escape history

“Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history” – Abraham Lincoln

If we are to seek the truth, one of the signposts to guide us must be history. If we do not follow the teachings of history  “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” – George Santayana


We must study the advantages and disadvantages of different cultures, their political systems, technological advancements, and the thought pattern of their citizenry.

One thing we must watch out for however is the source that we learn history from. Is this source objective? Is it fair and balanced? Or does the source currently work for a political agenda? After all, history is written by the victors. Imagine what history would look like if Nazi Germany had won World War II.

History is our guide, and we can learn about many aspects of modern society by comparing it to modern history all the way down to ancient history. Often there is a pattern of growth and then disintegration within a society. Corruption and manipulation of a political system, is often the root cause of this. It is allowed by the laziness of society, and the apathy of allowing a ‘ruling elite’ to run the country into the ground. In Ancient Rome, the population was kept under ignorance by what was called ‘panem et circenses’ or ‘bread and circuses’.

Bread and Circuses” (or bread and games) (from Latin: panem et circenses) is a metaphor for a superficial means of appeasement. It was the basic Roman formula for the well-being of the population, and hence a political strategy unto itself[citation needed]. In the case of politics, the phrase is used to describe the creation of public approval, not through exemplary or excellent public service or public policy, but through diversion, distraction, and/or the mere satisfaction of the immediate, shallow requirements of a populace.[1][2][3] The phrase also implies the erosion or ignorance of civic duty amongst the concerns of the common man (l’homme moyen sensuel).

In modern usage, the phrase has also become an adjective to describe a populace that no longer values civic virtues and the public life. Or as famous American author Robert Heinlein said, “Once the monkeys learn they can vote themselves bananas, they’ll never climb another tree.” To many across the political spectrum, left and right, it connotes a supposed triviality and frivolity that characterized the Roman Republic prior to its decline into the autocratic monarchy characteristic of the later Roman Empire’s transformation about 44 BCE.

It’s ironic how societies from two thousand years ago, can so directly mirror today’s society. Just take a minute to look at how mass media outlets concentrate in on once focus point, and almost completely block out anyone who has something else to say against it. John Stewart does a good job making fun of the media for blocking out presidential candidate Ron Paul during the Iowa straw poll last year.

We can learn many things through history, it is our signpost, if we learn to read the paper trails that have been left for us, we can discover the current issues more clearly, without the mass media confusing our judgment.

Remember that ‘what we do in life echos in eternity’, and that no matter which direction current history may be leading us, that we can always change the direction of it, no matter how dark the sky may become.

Published by

Paul Townsend

Paul is a freelance writer who grew up in the UK and became an American citizen.

2 thoughts on “We cannot escape history”

  1. unfortunately people generally have little interest learning history. look at the way we treat old age and older people. we ignore them and almost want to dispose of them. you are right. if people learned history from multiple sources we could find many answers to our current problems.

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