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  • David Brady

WHY WE KEEP REPEATING PAST MISTAKES





Have you ever had the vague recollection that you have made the same mistake before?  Why do you think that is?  Over time I have developed a theory that people and indeed the human race is doomed to repeat or worst case revisit the same problems over time.  I think the primary reason for this is our absolute abandonment of the past in regards to our collective shared history.

 While the average human lifecycle has increased considerably over the last 50 years our collective knowledge is still confined to a realm spanning less than a century.  Sociologist reluctantly agree on our personal and collective advancement in a few categories. Developmentalists often break the human lifespan into eight stages:

1. Prenatal Development

2. Infancy and Toddlerhood

3. Early Childhood

4. Middle Childhood

5. Adolescence

6. Early Adulthood

7. Middle Adulthood

8. Late Adulthood

Accepting that we have a shared developmental path and collective knowledge, it would seem that the appropriate way to understand our path is through the use of others’ recollection, experience and guidance down this path. 

Now before you start looking for a mentor on the forums let me recommend another novel approach, look for a book!  Try reading history or biographies; look to the past to solve present problems.  Regardless of how different we think our present condition is compared to the past I can assure you it’s not!  The problems we face today are not dissimilar to the ones faced by our parents or grandparents or for that matter their great grandparents. 

Every generation likes to think they’re facing things that are new to the world experience, and while there are advancements in technology that will affect peoples’ production for a net positive or negative, overall every generation has experienced technological changes and has had to adapt to them.

What has tied us together collectively as a civilization since the 14thcentury has been the availability of the written word.  When Gutenberg invented his printing press we moved from an age of oral tradition to written tradition in a very short timespan.  Up until that point the only books that were available had to be hand written.   This long and arduous task only afforded the very wealthy and privileged  access to books. 

So if you were living in the 14th century, in order to learn about your past you had to navigate a circuitous route to discern the information you were looking for about the past.  On top of that you would also need to avoid this tiny thing called Yersinia Pestis more commonly referred to as the “Black Death.”

Today our threshold for entry into the world of books is considerably less.  There are plenty of options,  some enabling you to read most of the greatest works ever written without leaving your home.  Or you could make a trip to your local library, the depository of learning since the origin of the written word.  I am sure the folks that work there would be happy to direct you to the newer version of the card catalogue to find what you are looking for.

With such ready access to the knowledge of others learned from recurring experiences throughout hundreds of years of our collective history, why limit yourself to solving problems based only on what you have experienced during the course of your limited lifespan?  Knowing that history repeats itself, would you rather repeat the mistakes and failures of the past or the successes? 

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