Friday, April 1, 2011

Making History Count for Something

It has been said that history repeats itself. That is true for individuals and for society as a whole. As individuals we tend to repeat our behaviors so that our past often predicts our future actions. Similarly, as a society we sometimes forget the lessons of the past and end up repeating our past mistakes. Why is it that sometimes we learn from our past and other times we repeat the errors of the past?

History is a valuable thing if we use the information to learn and make adjustments, but that requires us to be willing and open to learn from our past. What is even better is if we can learn from the past experience of others. We can learn both what to do and what not to do from others, and when we learn from their experience we are all better off.

To illustrate, compare society today with circumstances in the early 1920s. During “The Roaring 20's” it was a time of new prosperity for our country. There were feelings of a new excitement and exuberance in many aspects of society including clothing, music, and entertainment. The new social life created a feeling of increased opportunity. Many believed prosperity and the economic boom would only increase and improve. By the end of the of the twenties things changed significantly, and The Great Depression set in crushing the feelings of optimism and invincibility.

Similarly, in the late 90s through about 2006 we as a society experienced unparalleled prosperity with similar feelings of optimism and invincibility. Then came what some are calling The Great Recession, the effects of which we are still experiencing today. Many are still unemployed and the economic recovery is a slow process.

Now more than ever we need to learn the lessons of the past. A few things we could learn are:

  • Change spending habits and avoid debt - stop spending money we do not have

  • Reduce the debts we do have

  • Save money and plan for the future

  • create a prudent store of food and supplies for potential economic downturns and natural disasters

Perhaps we can learn from the recent “historical events” which occurred in Japan? There are many things we can learn from history for our benefit. If we do not learn from our past errors and mistakes, history has shown that we will repeat them.