The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

Personal Development Worldview

WHAT CAN THE PAST TEACH US? EVERYTHING! – There is a saying: The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same. It means that because humans change very slowly on a biological level that even though society goes through far-reaching changes the problems of society always seem to be the same. The stories of history hold the secrets of success, continuity, and failure that can prevent us from crashing and burning in ignorance.

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So much has changed over the centuries. In my dad’s life, he went from a boy who slept in a barn with his dog and his horse, cutting ice from the pond in winter for the “icehouse” before they had electric refrigerators, to sitting with me and watching the first men walk on the moon on a color TV. He often said, “The more things change the more things remain the same.” That is because events and technology change, but people don’t. Our thinking and instincts are very much like they were long ago. That is because evolution is very slow and our thinking, emotions, and survival instincts are all governed biologically and genetically and affect our reaction to events. Fundamentally, we are the same as those who were in Rome, Egypt, or Ancient Sumer.

Thomas Jefferson said it clearly when he said, The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite.”

If you have been taught that history is just a collection of dates, you were lied to. History, properly taught, is a collection of stories. The stories of people. These lessons are there for us today so we can avoid their mistakes and embrace their successes as our own. Parents used to teach their kids that you can either learn from the school of hard knocks and let life knock you around and learn the hard way or learn from others through reading. That is what my folks taught me. That is what real history has to teach us. When people destroy history, they destroy the opportunity to learn from the mistakes and successes of the past and force us to re-learn all those lessons all over again. In the past, millions of people suffered and died learning those lessons. Those lives mattered. They were wives and husbands, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters who had hopes and dreams just like we have. If we don’t respect their life experience and learn from them then we condemn millions of others to go through similar experiences in order to learn “the hard way.”

In the midst of our 21st Century lives, the same problems of life that were contained in the ancient Ten Commandments presented by Moses are still with us. Murder, theft, adultery, disobedience, greed, disrespect, and corruption fill the headlines of our papers, our news channels, and our other media. Our constitution was carefully constructed to account for human failings. It made it hard to make laws so that one group or class could not gain so much power that they could become tyrannize another group and force them to live differently. In fact, from my study, many of our problems have come from deviating from the plan and working around the limits of the Constitution. Those who think they are elite hate to have their power constrained. People accuse our founders of being elite so that you don’t listen to them or try to find out what they had to say. Amazing how they created a system that limited the power of the elite if they were trying to cement their power. Here is another quote from Jefferson from over 200 years ago that rings true today and belies the half-truths spread about him in our media:

I think myself that we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious. Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have…The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases. The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first. – Thomas Jefferson.

So, Jefferson studied history and politics and he teaches us that when we are governed by criminals who pervert justice and are immune to prosecution, we will know that we no longer have a legitimate government and are living in a tyranny. The founders were clear on this.

Check Out Victor Davis Hansen, an amazing scholar, on this very topic:

3 thoughts on “The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

  1. I like to think of history as one big story waiting to be told some stories get lost in the grand scheme of things stories that shouldn’t be lost are lost and stories that should be lost remain and people base themselves on historical inaccuracies and fundamental wrongs this needs to change if we as a society should continue forward. stories lost in time are stories lost in the future.

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