Sunday, November 06, 2016

The Importance of Historical Perspective

     The men and women who lived a hundred plus years ago possessed the same passions, strengths and weaknesses that we possess today.  Being born, struggling for food and shelter, mating, dying; the basic rhythms of life remain the same from century to century.  The ordering of these rhythms of life by social custom and political institutions depends largely on technology and the prevailing ideology of the day.  Can we ever judge if the ordering was right?  Should we even try?  History is a kaleidoscope, the view changes with the values of each succeeding generation.  What was moral and right in 1861 is today unacceptable.  What is moral and right today will be unacceptable tomorrow.

    What history can give us is perspective.  History shows that this moment is not the only moment, but rather is part of a continuum.  Without perspective life becomes self-absorbed, and degenerates into either solemn and stressful or frivolous and trivial.  Hopefully, with perspective, we can find balance.

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