As a younger (that is to say that I’m still young) man I always had a dislike for the study of history. I could never comprehend what any of us could learn from what people did a long time ago. The older I get the more this changes. I don’t know what the cause of this attitude change is but I can certainly see its effects.
I am passionate about US history and in the last year I’ve read biographies of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton, Franklin, Lincoln, and others. I just can’t get enough of it. I keep telling Ami (my wife) that my greatest vacation spot right now would consist of Mount Vernon, Valley Forge, and Liberty Hall.
This has caused some reflection. What is to be gained by studying the past? Does it change the way we move forward in our lives? I recently stumbled upon a quote by George Santayana, who said “Those who do not remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.”
In this current economic crisis I’m stuck pondering the lessons of the past. It seems that more than ever we have a strong need as a society to learn from the mistakes of our fathers and yet nobody is listening. How many more years can we go along allowing ourselves to duplicate the mistakes of the past before we have a crash that is too great to recover from.
Every year I try to read the book “Atlas Shrugged,” by Ayn Rand. In this epic novel Ayn Rand shows how a socialist government can cripple society as it slowly regulates the producers to death or exile. Sometimes I wonder if we are going that route.
The most important thing we can do is to keep forever in mind our history and the lessons that have been left for us by our fathers!
Jacob S. Paulsen