Thursday, June 18, 2020

Rewriting History

Many of you who have read this blog for a while may have noticed that I am a fan of history. I see no good reason to “reinvent the wheel” when I run into a problem or foresee a possible hardship; humans have been dealing with such things for thousands of years, and they've tried a lot of different ways of getting around them. Even before we invented writing, we had oral history passed down from one generation to the next in the forms of songs and poems that were easier to remember than prose. Not everything they tried has worked out well (there has been a lot of trial and error over the years), but we should be able to learn from the mistakes of others and move ahead to make our own, new, mistakes. 

The last few generations of “important” people have been working hard to rewrite or erase history. I don't care what their reasons are; they all think that they are wiser than our predecessors and that by ignoring the lessons of the past they can make the world a better place (for them). Time passes and their immodesty eventually bites them in the ass, but they do a lot of damage and ruin a lot of lives before they are exposed as just another flawed human being who should have never been given any power over others. I'm not talking about politics -- this goes much deeper than the elected idiots -- I'm trying to point out that leaders at all levels can be guilty of this. Have you ever had a new boss “clean house” and get rid of every sign that there was a former boss?

Carlos Santayana was right when he said“Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it”. Winston Churchill paraphrased that as, “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it”, which shifts the action from passive “cannot remember” to the more active “fail to learn”. This idea, the rewriting of history to make it match the current events, was one of the main parts of Orwell's 1984. The push to eliminate parts of history is a way to keep future generations from being able to learn from the mistakes of others in order to provide a path for those mistakes to be repeated.

If you dig into history deep enough, you'll find that this, too, is nothing new. Erasing the acts (good, bad, or indifferent) of preceding leaders or generations is a way to make oneself seem better or more intelligent when you trot out the same, often failed, solution to a recurring problem. Ancient leaders would deface or destroy statues of previous leaders (sound familiar?), scribes would be instructed to remove all mention of predecessors when they copied texts (compare textbooks from today with those written 20 years ago), and religions have been especially atrocious in destroying anything that contradicts the “new” faith.

Do what you can to preserve history. I collect old books and pass on the knowledge that I have gained as a way to keep some part of the past alive. The old man and his “back in my day...” stories may be funny, but if you find yourself in a situation that resembles life when he was younger, those stories may give you some hints about how to get through it. Read more history, and pass along the lessons that we have learned over the years. Resist the idiots that are trying to “remake” our world into their version of paradise. Remember that the people who are willing to burn books usually end up burning people, and treat them accordingly.

Water, food, shelter, companionship: these are all basic necessities to human life and that hasn't changed. Learning how your ancestors provided those things and then applying a dose of modern technology and common sense is a good way to grow as a prepper. There truly is very little new under the sun; it's just new to us and we need to find a way to deal with those new things. Our ancestors may have a clue or two for us.

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