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Don't Know Much About History

Monday, February 23, 2009

"Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
George Santayana

When I first started listening to the 24-volume audio set of the book, JOHN ADAMS, I thought to myself, I'll never finish this. It's just too historical.

But since it was a Christmas gift and my favorite NPR station was in the midst of an interminable fund-raiser, I recently decided to give old John a whirl.

Gradually, I found myself lured into this 18th century patriot's world: his love for his wife, his personal vanity, his disappointment in his ne'er-do-well alcoholic son, his hurt over the betrayal of friends he trusted, his awareness of his own aging, his resolve to become more disciplined in his studies and exericise, his concern about finances, his determination to make a mark on the world, his desire to be a positive part of the pages of history.

With only four more cds to go, I am already missing John Adams, a President I knew little about before my extended visit with him on my commutes to and from school, hospital, and work.

I am struck by the similarties between his time and ours-- the corruption and ego that permeates government, idealism that is struck down by the punishing weight of reality and inertia.

While we fancy ourselves quite different from our forebears, at the core so much of being human is the same ol' stuff.

One of my favorite quotations is, "History is not destiny." But with the comparisons that exist between our time and Adams', I am inclined to question that truth.

For history NOT to be destiny, we must employ an action verb. Unless, we muster our resolve, formulate a plan of action, and stick to our goals, I see that we probably ARE destined to repeat history. Changing destiny on any level requires action and commitment, and it is a fallacy to assume otherwise.

If we keep the same eating habits that led to our parents' obesity, we will keep the same obesity and harmful effects to our health. If we maintain the same prejudices our ancestors lived by, we will propagate the discord that exists in our society and our world. If we don't change, we doom our children to the same destiny we inherited.

One of the misfortunes of middle age is the perception and reality that there is little time left to do all that must be done to make a difference.

The moment to act is now. Destiny is fast approaching.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    You realize you can just 'watch' the 7 hour mni series on dvd by HBO ;-). I watched that when it first aired and since then have read the book. In my opinion he was probably 'one' of the best one term Presidents. I think he really knew what this country was all about. Heck, he was a major founding father and does not get as much recognition as the others do. He was a simple man who loved his country about all else, perhaps to a certain degree even his family eve though his wife understood the importance of what he was doing. Anyway, I've wated and read about John Adams so I know quite a bit about him.
    3356 days ago
    Audio books made my 100 mile round trip to work go by fast! I really enjoyed the series Clan of the Cave Bear .
    3363 days ago
  • JIBBIE49
    Oh, I listened to all of JOHN ADAMS since I got it from the library. I have a "boombox" radio in the kitchen that has a CD player, so I listen to my "Books on CD" while I'm cleaning. I just loved it. I also, listened to James Madison. What a group of brilliant men. Makes you thankful that they were running America and not the greedy bunch today.
    Listen to THE Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin" as that is really a classic. emoticon
    3369 days ago
    Audio books are wonderful. I Iisten to them at the gym.
    3375 days ago
    I love reading your blogs...especially your most recent ones. I see myself in each one of them!
    3375 days ago
  • CUDDY521
    Rosie, Thanks for sharing this history!
    emoticon Cuddy
    3376 days ago
    I believe evolution is unstoppable. Not just on a biological basis but for everything. Ideas evolve. Cultures evolve. Humans are still evolving. Some humans here now are more evolved than others. While some core stuff may remain the same, in reality all of life is changing. Always has, always will. What appears to remain constant can be something that is simply changing slowing. We are still finding weather patterns so big we don't see all of the pattern. Like fractals, the information available for us to mine is practically a bottomless pit.

    Did you know humans are remarkably less violent now than we've been in the past? And that this has been improving almost exponentially? To watch the news, one would not think so but it is factually true.

    I see prejudice dying by the sheer fact that ignorance busting informal education is becoming increasingly cheap or free and with universal access. The first time I "chatted" with someone from the other side of the planet, I knew we were in for some big changes, good changes. I think the best has yet to come.

    Man, you make some really interesting blog entries. More than worth the wait for them.
    3376 days ago
  • BILL60
    What a great message in this blog. Thank you so much, my Bud.

    3376 days ago
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