It is frustrating. Things are about to happen: Things that have happened before. You write. You say, ‘Don’t do this! It is wrong. It is silly.’ You carefully explain the consequences of the proposals. You cajole. The letter may be printed. Someone may write in to agree or disagree. The things still happen. The consequences follow. No one seems to care or mind. No one remembers. No one reads history. No one learns.
They all think that things are new. These are different times. We need different language, new ideas for a new technological age. History is for old times. We are not like that now. Who wants to know about the mistakes our grandparents made? We are cleverer than they. We have the internet and television. Who cares about old empires and old wars? It is just boring and a waste of time. We need instant solutions relevant to now. People were silly because they didn’t know what we know now. Life is much faster now.
But people are not new. The mistakes we are making now have been made before. We have been warned before. The difference is that the stakes are much higher now. In a faster age the consequences spread much faster and are so much more difficult to control. They become global very quickly. Time spent studying history and paying attention to the warnings of historians of the past is not just important for academics or economists or military strategists or politicians. It is essential for all of us. So we can all see the edge of the abyss and stop in time and not be led to our own destruction.
We have been trained to be bored, to be only interested in excitement and drama, to crave for entertainment so we trust the experts who know best to do the jobs we trust them to do. It is as though we are in an aircraft that is going to crash because the pilot has had a heart attack and the cabin crew give out nitrous oxide masks to put everyone to sleep instead of asking if anyone knows how to fly the thing.