Armed Conflict-Will we ever learn?


learning from historyHands up everybody who has heard of the quote

“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

George Santana 1863-1952

Very good,well done, but how about the other two quotes that follow

“We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.”

George Bernard Shaw 1856-1950

Mankind are so much the same, in all times and places, that history informs us of nothing new or strange in this particular. Its chief use is only to discover the constant and universal principles of human nature.”

David Hume 1711-1766

Very few us I’d imaging, and it would seem that if all three are put together in  a common framework, we are doomed for all eternity to keep on repeating our errors over and over again. If this is so, then why is it so. After all we have a magnificent brain, we are capable of achieving everything, including, so even say, the impossible, so why is it that we seem to be so incapable or blind.

This was the focal of a discussion that I had recently, with a group of friends over coffee, and it went on for hours. We all agreed that we SHOULD learn from History, and that by doing so many problems COULD  be solved, but from then on a difference of opinion arose. Most of my friends are optimists. They believe in humanity,  they have hope for the future, and therefore, quite understandably, they voiced the view that although a resolution of this conundrum  might take “some time” to  appear ( no time period stated by the way), appear it would do so such is the complexity of our brains.

I however stood alone as regards a viewpoint . As a life long  realist, a pragmatist, life long devil’s advocate, and behavioral observer -or bloody minded cynic as one of the group termed it-I promoted the view that not only will we fail in our desire to end our passion, as a  species, for armed or whatever conflict, but that by doing so we rebel against one of the primal laws of nature that not even we as humans can deny.

This resulted in a very agitated if not heated discussion, and I was challenged, though this blog to explain my views

” You can’t say that,” they all informed me” Or if you really believe it, you have to justify and back up your views!”

With pleasure , I told them, and so it is that I’m now happy, just for once. as my wife would often tell me, to do as I’m told.

In a previous post called –What if -we are but animals-I promoted the concept that we refuse to accept who we really are, and I quoted the words of Albert Camuswhen he said

“Man is the only creature who refuses to be what he is.”

But now I also include two other quotes so as to back up my argument

“People speak sometimes about the “bestial” cruelty of man, but that is terribly unjust and offensive to beasts, no animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel.”

Fyodor Dostoyewsky 1821-1881

“The Fourteenth Book is entitled, “What can a Thoughtful Man Hope for Mankind on Earth, Given the Experience of the Past Million Years?” It doesn’t take long to read The Fourteenth Book. It consists of one word and a period. This is it: “Nothing.”

Kurt Vonnegut, the cat’s cradle-1922-2007

To my mind we, as a species are all to ready to use the three words of COULD, WOULD and SHOULD. As words go they are very acceptable and useful, if used in a suitable context, and, as words go I have no argument with them, but I find myself getting irritated when they are used to circumvent  an uncomfortable truth, or used to buy time. Look at the area of discussion within this post for example.We know that we COULD learn from history, we WOULD like to see World peace, and an end to armed conflict, and we SHOULD be able to achieve such a resolution. but is  this  noble if desperate ringing of of hands any more than a circumvention of reality, an excuse to talk but do nothing, and  a self congratulatory pat on the back as regards what noble views we air?

I would say that, in this context, such words are worse than useless, as used in a similar fashion to words such as principles and morality, they bare not only meaningless, but they hide  a far greater crime of a refusal to be who we are, because of a desire to think better of ourselves

Well, you have made for yourself something that you call a morality or a religion or what not. It doesn’t fit the facts. Well, scrap it. Scrap it and get one that does fit. That is what is wrong with the world at present. It scraps its obsolete steam engines and dynamos; but it won’t scrap its old prejudices and its old moralities and its old religions and its old political constitutions.

Writes G B Shaw in his play Major Barbara. Within such words is there not a lesson for us all

Regardless of faith, all-powerful ans all-seeing God’s or entities, morality, principles, and logical reasoning; do we not have to fight for survival, just like every other living thing around us? Do we not have to drink, eat, rest-if we can- and battle for our slice of sustainable and reproductive territory? We are part nature, we cannot escape her clutches, and if we cannot escape her clutches, them, most surely, we have to obey this most basic of all rules.

So there you go folks, that is the justification for my views. Yet they are only my views and, hopefully, I am wrong, as they are profoundly negative by nature, so what do you think as readers and blog visitors?

Do you think there can ever be an end to armed conflict, or, like me, do you think that such a scenario is potentially just a dream?

I’d love to hear from you all on this as with any other topic, so why not leave  a comment, and maybe, if you like the blog and/or post content pass on the message that this blog is here

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Categories: Growing pains, Reality Checks

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