(this is an excerpt from something I wrote in 2010 before my blogging days – not sure why it showed up today in my inbox but it’s appropriate for the world today in light of terrorism, mass shootings, and political rallying)
I have always been fascinated with the phrase “those who forget history are doomed to repeat it”. I’m not certain where I first heard it, however, I remember one of my teachers in junior high telling us that in relation to the history of WWII. And it can easily be applied in the context of Hitler’s genocide. That kind of evil makes a bold statement that shakes us all to the core of our own personal beliefs, I believe.
And yet, when a matter is not so boldly written upon the face of society, how then may we learn the lessons?
The Salem witch trials were a period in the history of our own country which is not so far removed from the ideas which caused the genocide of WWII – a “leader” who insisted that his authority never be questioned, gossip running fervently through the society, fear of the unknown, a deep human need to be wanted and accepted and loved by those around us –
We can blame evil upon the ideas of a madman or a unbalanced hormonal teenager or any other errant person in our society while believing that all we must do is stick to the rules of society and we will be free from such evil, but are we really?
God says we are all sinners, that we were all born tainted. We all have the capacity to do evil things to others. And yet, some people have missed that lesson. Some people believe that if they go to church or work in ministry or if they are appointed or elected to some leadership or governing board, be it religious or political, that somehow THEY are now in authority and are above wrong doing, that they can sit in judgement of other people. That mentality is just as prevalent in our society today as it was in the 1600’s in Salem and in the 1930’s and 40’s in Germany. So, what have we learned from history?
We have to learn more than just facts and figures. We have to know more than just following a set of rules. Those things don’t teach us the lessons we need to learn. We need to learn compassion.
When the world learns that lesson, really learns what that means, then and only then will the lessons that history holds for us be made plain and simple for all to see and grasp.