This I Believe

Andrew - orrville, Ohio
Entered on May 22, 2007

Society Must Learn From History

“ The only new thing is history we don’t know.”-Harry S. Truman. I believe that society and individuals must learn from history. If a person does not take into account the events that have occurred in the past, then almost certainly a similar event will unfold.

There are countless examples of these recurrences in society on a large scale, such as the Vietnam War and the War in Iraq. When comparing these two events many similarities are obvious. For instance, when the United States entered the Vietnam War in 1959, it did not have a clear, well-thought-out plan for winning the war. This is parallel to what happened when the United States entered Iraq in 2003. In the launching of the War In Iraq, like the Vietnam War, the majority of Americans were in support of the war. When the public began to realize that the government did not have clear objective for entering and a plan to win the war, the mood of Americans changed to now a majority of Americans are against the war.

One example when society did learn from past events in order to prevent a recurrence was after the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. After this, the possession of weapons of mass destruction was outlawed worldwide. This contrasts to the Vietnam War, in which no strict laws were made to ensure the United States would not become “tied up” in a war without a foreseeable end. If this would not have taken place humankind may have entered into another world war. Had the leaders of our country learned from the past, they would have had a better plan for the conflict in the Middle East.

On a smaller scale, as an individual, I can provide accounts in which I have either learned from history or have not, and had recurrences. Football is not war, but there are lessons involved, for example; this past season in football every week the Saturday morning after our football game, our team met to watch films and be critiqued by our coaches. This helped me, as a player, to learn from both my mistakes and the successes. I would then know what I had to focus on during practice the following week to improve my play, and not make the same mistakes as the previous week.

People in positions of power, especially should learn from mistakes of the past. Everyday people can learn from their mistakes or mistakes made by others. When individuals become aware of their surroundings this becomes possible. I believe that people should learn from history.