He notes “Over our history, wars ended with confiscatory terms of surrender inevitably breed more wars. Revolutions that give an individual absolute power inevitably end up as brutal dictatorships. Even individuals are subject to this advice. Couples who do not learn from their fights break up.” The proverb appears true.
On the other hand, knowing history and not repeating it do not reflect the plain historical record that people often do what they know from past experience or teaching leads to negative results. Positive results follow a more complicated method than simply learning history.
To learn means to acquire knowledge. One who teaches imparts knowledge. Telling means to announce or proclaim, which does not necessarily lead to learning or teaching. To state the obvious, smart good people often do what they know better than to do. What is the solution?
Another well known proverb, this time from the Bible, says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Training includes but goes beyond telling, teaching, and learning. It makes a person fit through instruction and discipline. It requires dedication first on the part of the parent, and, to be effectual, on the part of the student or child. For example, a child is not trained in bed making once they know how to make their bed. Rather, they are trained only when they know how to make it and choose to do so on their own when no longer under compulsion.
Much may be learned from those who have lived before us. A great place to begin is Christian History Magazine’s “131 Christians Everyone Should Know”. Be inspired. There is something for everyone. The back cover notes the diversity of the lives explored: “Menno Simons, a pacifist, and the Roman emperor Constantine, a general. Leaders of the Reformation—Luther, Calvin, Zwingli-and the Counter-Reformation-Ignatius Loyola and Teresa of Avila. Men and women. Teenagers such as Joan of Arc, and the aged saints like Polycarp.” Remember, acquiring knowledge is the first step. Training is the process. Success is a higher quality of life.
This coming Sunday is All Saints Sunday. Many churches commemorate the lives of those believers who died the previous year and are now living with Jesus on that day. Maybe there is one you know; one who had qualities you wish to make part of your own. Dedicate your life to acquiring knowledge about that quality and how to make it your own. Then take the first step on the journey to proficiency with discipline and practice.
Why repeat past errors when you can learn from the past in order to create a better tomorrow through training and dedication?