Millennials quote on the social media today like unicorns in an acid dream. Everyone loves to quote the quotes and hit ‘likes’ like a newborn unknown to the human kind. I hesitate frequently to vibrate on the social media in-sync with the borrowed quotes owing to their linear nature of distribution. By linear nature, I mean no contextual tagging of where, why and how the quote came about. Nagging about the quotes on the internet, I have made it inevitable for myself to not delve into one. I first heard “History Repeats Itself” when I was 12, maybe. However, I remember the teacher sarcastically grinning and blabbering this quote to a student who was failing at that young-age and had remained stationed in the same class for two years in a row already. I understood the concept with respect to this dude’s life, but I was too young to think about anything else for a long time to come. In the process, I did a lot of self-reflection – Do I repeat certain activities unknowingly? Does this habit last the rest of my life? Maybe repeating my own historic emotional, mental or physical activities and their outcomes in different scenarios is helpful, but how do I measure it? How are people repeating their mistakes, or success? What makes humans indulge so much in the history that they repeat it?
Well, the answer is simple; quotes get thrown around frequently these days without acknowledging the philosophical and worldly context and set up behind it. The original quote in our case is just not “History repeats itself”, it rather is “those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. Penned by George Santayana (1863-1952) (https://www.iep.utm.edu/santayan/ ), an American Writer born in Madrid, Spain in Dec 1863, in a book called “The life of Reason: The Phases of Human Progress”, this was not his only quotable text. Along with the philosophy of ‘not remembering the history condemns one to repeat it’, he also notably asserted, “happiness is the only sanction in life, and where happiness fails, existence remains a sad and lamentable experience” and “Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness.” (https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/George_Santayana). Combine just these three thoughts – Progress requires retentiveness, Happiness is the only real reason of life, and not remembering history condemns one to repeat it. Pondering reveals a life pattern and a certain vision of it. These three statements, collectively, state that life is all about happiness (in whatever you can find and make meaning for yourself). Life where happiness does not exist for you makes one stress and overthink, and a push to try to find a meaning in life. Progress happens, in general, when the next level is reached, however small or large it may be. The jump to the next level, nevertheless, requires the knowledge or rather the remembrance of the history. History of all people who have tried to achieve this level, and history of the one who is now trying to achieve it. I rather started reading history as lessons learnt. History prepares us like nothing else! The best example is that I remember passing many courses based on previous year’s question papers and frequently asked questions and knowing numerous people who excelled at this art. We cannot quantify its meaning because we are not keeping detailed logs of our own or someone else’s history, and not evaluating every moment in life with respect to what has happened in the past and how it affects our jump to the next step. So, as clearly as the mirror shows you your own reflection processed through your own eyes and brain, the dialectic needed for history is limited for teaching and debating purpose, mostly. But, how do we use history on a personal level to enhance our present? Personally, I think it comes down to Emotional Intelligence (EI). Why EI? Because EI is the power to understand other people’s emotions and then regulate your own to gauge their emotional and mental frequency. (http://ei.yale.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/pub184_Brackett_Rivers_Salovey_2011_Compass-1.pdf ). It is the skill to understand anyone’s behavior and more interestingly, the probable reason behind any yelling, love, pleonasm, one-word answers, storytelling, silent treatment and other inarticulate gestures. So, remembering history and using EI together helps understand the plight of others through a much broader perspective and prepares one to act accordingly. Normally, humans like to judge each other with respect to their own experiences in past and their own ability to cope with them. Hence, the next time your parents are lecturing you about the dearth of opportunities in their own time, and the sea in front of you, you just need to understand that they judge you with respect to their own ability or dis-ability. Reasoning is when one looks beyond his/ her own life and takes fact-based examples to understand someone else’s plight. Discussions are healthy when one keeps their own perception of the whole-world at the base level of understanding, and add the facts gathered as layers to the base level, to come to a decision or judgement. Otherwise, the history will just keep repeating itself owing to your judgement of yourself being the barometer of judgement for everyone else. So, do not give a chance to history to ruin your present.
Or, just indulge in your character and purely bi*ch about people being unfair a**holes because that works on a larger level of current-human-understanding perfectly!
Murphy’s Law “Things will go wrong at any situation, if you give them a chance”
A good-read is the book “History repeating itself” by Gregory M. Pfitzer that incinerates the idea of twentieth century social studies tampering the history ideologically to make it ‘appropriate’ for the future generation. http://www.umass.edu/umpress/title/history-repeating-itself
Image Acknowledgement – http://axtschmiede.com/history-repeats-itself/