Moments of change happen to people every single day. Babies are born. Parents die. Children die. A house burns. A theft. A rescue. An opening. A closure. These things come in the billions everyday. Moments crashing into another over and over in towns, cities, farms and forests. Everywhere. There wasn't an iota of human existence that hasn't been touched by the forces of the world.
There's always been a mystic feelings to watching history. I can never place my finger on it, but it was there. It's there like the sun each morning, even through the smoke of the brushfires or the black cover of a mountain storm. It took a normal day that was blue and calm and transported me to a place out of step with what came before it. The sun didn't look right. The air had a tinge of uncertainty. The world that I saw wasn't the world that I experienced just moments before.
And yet, the world had never changed, not in the sense we short-lived intelligent animals think of as change. Not in the sense of the creation of the solar system or the destruction of the dinosaurs. Those things are real, forever change. Change that utterly ended the world without destroying it. I've been alive twenty four years and what I've been alive to see has simply been the reiteration of the natural truths of human existence in new and interesting forms. The events themselves are new, no doubt, as, for example, the Romans never put a man into space (nor did they do it in a race against Carthage), but the basic reason behind the events have never, ever lost their force.
These forces are so primal, so natural, that we dress them up in new words to disguise what they really are. When you talk about the Final Solution, you are not just talking about the genocidal dictates of a race-oriented national socialist dictator, but you are also talking about a hatred. Pure, deep tribal hatred. Something that repeated itself dozens of times 20 years before the Nazis and dozens of times 20 years after them. When you talk about the fall of the USSR, you are not just talking about the fall of communism, but you are talking about the felling of a single empire which took the place of a previous empire, which in turn took the place of the empire before it. During those empires, the Russian people never tasted freedom, nor do they taste it today. Before the Suffrage Movement, oligarchical Sparta had equal rights for women while democratic Athens shunned the gender. Where the first human and civil laws were created thousands of years ago now lays the bloody print of a dead dictator, one who took from another bloody dictator, who was given his patch of land from an empire that spanned the globe.
If you talk to those who dream of the future of progress and push for our civilization to reach for social perfection, they seem to think what they're doing has been done before. Our leaders, past and present, the ones with the vast visions and the big plans, they saw history as progressive. They saw the moments of humanity individual and apart from other moments. What they didn't know is these things they pine for are not new nor are they special if you put them up against the rest of history. The tale of human civilization shows we human beings, and our human nature, is consistent in its ability to bring us to greats highs like Babylon and its laws, Sparta's equality among the sexes, Athens' experiment with democracy, the Bill of Rights, the liberation of Europe from Nazi, then Soviet tyranny; and in its ability to bring us people like bloody Nero, the Athenian mob, Spartan infanticide, Persian tyranny and murder, the antebellum slave trade, the Islamist terrorist blowback of the Cold War. And all these things are just customs or events in the life time of our modern nations. Dare we think of what could come in our lifetime that may rival the fall of Rome, the Spartan-Athenian War or the Second World War?
When the television told me change is on the way, or a spry newborn revolutionary wanted me to ride the tide of liberation, I followed. When the bombs dropped on Belgrade in 1999, I thought it was new. When the towers fell, I thought it was new. Even when our President was elected last November, I still had that feeling of history. And yet, it wasn't truly there. There was something repetitive about it. Something old. His name was different, his voice was different, even his skin was different, but I'd be damned if I didn't think I saw a tinge of our past, let alone the past of Western civilization, in it. This is why we can't ignore the clues of our past and the words of our Founders. They saw the past, they read the histories and they knew the follies of narcissistic peoples. They enshrined the highs and build walls to prevents the lows. There's a reason they talked and wrote of God-given rights and of human nature and not of the rights we may have later or of the need to implement social justices and save humanity. It's not because they wanted to inspire us to run headstrong into the future, spreading the gospel we think we read in our nation's events, taking for granted that we are safe in our democracy (nay, republic). It's because they wanted to warn us against thinking our future was new, that our actions are unique and that our choices are impossible to fathom from so far in the past.
I don't know what will happen in the future, but what I know is I see the signs of human consistency. It could be before I die or after I die, but if we do not heed to the histories of our human nature, we shall become an example to the future republicans of some lucky, distant nation.
Cross-posted at Conservative Today
Eugen Joseph Weber, The Hollow Years - At Amazon, Eugen Joseph Weber, *The Hollow Years: France in the 1930s*.
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