“Those who cannot remember the past
are condemned to repeat it.”
— George Santayana
[Classic post from 4-18-18]
Along with some of the biggest changes in my life, in the last year, I have been studying every day five texts by Paul Selig. I've gone through them about six times because I wanted to really not only understand the wisdom contained in the texts but to adapt it in my life. Even with a year of these posts I could not share all that I have learned, but some subjects stand apart from the rest, and the one I want to share this morning is about our history, or more accurately, our habitual historical perspective which rules our lives so much, and we are not really aware of it being that way.
Let's take the quote above, which is often misquoted as, “those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” The truth is that we repeat it all the time. It has become what we do without any effort or realization that this is the case.
But, before I go on, I must refute the part about being condemned (or doomed, if you prefer) to repeat it. This is ALWAYS our choice, though we claim to want change. It does not happen to us, it is chosen by us in many, many ways that on the surface do not seem like a choice at all.
The one most powerful thing that I have learned from these five texts is that we are always choosing and more often than not, we are choosing the past.
I was in the grocery store the other day and saw a magazine in the rack by the checkout that showed a robotic man-like figure in protective gear holding a rifle that looked like some kind of laser weapon and as I recall the title was war in 2030, or it might have been the weapons of war in 2030. In either case, this is pure history. It is a historical perspective. And many, if not most of us, buy into the idea that war will always be happening somewhere in this crazy world and that we need to stay ahead in the technological expansion of the tools of war. It is complete and utter silliness to me, and so I laughed at the magazine cover as I went about my day.
In these texts, this idea of history and living in a historical perspective and continuing to choose based on our history is the most discussed thing. The first couple of times through the material I was tired of hearing about it, but then I started to truly realize that this was so important for me to get that any repetition only reinforced the idea that I wasn't yet accepting it. My eyes have been opened and I can now see how this is happening in my own life and that of others and the world we live in.
Can we change? Absolutely. Will we change is a better question. But, before we can change, we must understand what and how we are choosing along with the fact that we are always choosing, and have always chosen.
One of the best quotes from these texts is something I've shared before and will again because it is so powerful: “You are not independent of your environment.” But, we think we are. We think that the world rules and that our goal is to comply and adjust as necessary to get what we want, and we are often thwarted at that by circumstance or by what we consider to be other people's decisions, heredity, class stature, etc. This is not true. We certainly can operate this way and I have for most of my life, but that is not the truth, it is merely an interpretation that I make from a historical perspective.
I will continue more tomorrow and beyond, but I want to end this post with a wonderful quote by Benjamin Franklin from his autobiography: “So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.”
Here's A Perfect Historical Perspective To (Re-)Consider: “Peace Is The Only Battle Worth Waging.” — Albert Camus
Spread Some Joy Today–as you see that you are not independent of your environment and that you are in charge of it.