Ignoring past mistakes means repeating them

Posted 1/29/19

History: As was once expressed by former Harvard professor George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It is a subject that seemingly has been forgotten in …

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Ignoring past mistakes means repeating them


History: As was once expressed by former Harvard professor George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

It is a subject that seemingly has been forgotten in this age of instant communication and lack of understanding. Our nation has been held hostage by those who are elected to federal office to lead us, as they seemingly have forgotten their pledge that they “will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic and that they will bear true faith and allegiance to the same."

I was always taught that one can become bitter, or one can become better when presented with a choice to make in life. I am so glad that the vast majority of people who call Bradley County their home continue to seek the path toward bettering themselves and their situation that they find themselves in currently.

It is important to seek ways to constructively change the current stalemate that we find ourselves in and that usually starts within each of us. May we all possess the ability to search our own heart and recent actions, and see if they are pleasing to more than just ourselves. Are they leading to a betterment of the situation or are they an attempt to make others look bad while not accomplishing much toward the goal of improving the situation for all involved?

We can all improve and we can all forgive one another’s former transgressions. The ability to change an opinion is reserved for humans alone. This fact should be enough to help in making strides toward reconciliation and a renewed effort to find common ground and then move forward.

Just because some in Washington, D.C., find it impossible to speak with each other, this does not mean that this is how we should all act. If this process were to be allowed to continue, it will not end well. There are so many repositories of facts along many civilizations that have passed before us that allowed this behavior to continue and this constant strife and bickering lead to the downfall and detriment to all involved. 

Some 161 years ago another person must have also felt this way. On June 16, 1858, more than 1,000 delegates met in the Springfield, Ill., statehouse for the Republican State Convention. At 5 p.m., they chose Abraham Lincoln as their candidate for the U.S. Senate, running against Democrat Stephen A. Douglas.

At 8 p.m., Lincoln delivered this address to his Republican colleagues in the Hall of Representatives. The title reflects part of the speech's introduction, "A house divided against itself cannot stand," a concept familiar to Lincoln's audience as a statement by Jesus recorded in all three gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke).

Many in that audience felt this concept, while true, was too radical for the time and also allowed the opposition to pounce upon his words and use them against the candidate later. He rejected that idea and said that while he may lose some political ground in the short term, these universal truths were also factually correct.

History proves that not only was he correct in the choosing of the phrase, but that he also had become a person who chose to go above the fray and helped to heal a nation that was becoming divided.

We are desperately in need of another person who will once again rise above the fray to say that we will no longer continue down this path that will eventually lead to division and defeat. Hopefully, they will realize what others did about 60 years ago that was made famous by a beloved comic strip.

Oliver Hazard Perry had coined the phrase that, “We have met the enemy and they are ours,” after a naval battle. In the 1960s, amid the turmoil from the Vietnam War, Walt Kelly was the author of the comic strip "Pogo," and he made famous his updated version, which read: “We have met the enemy, and he is us."

We will survive and the correction will originate, and then be shared by, communities from all across our nation – from places just like Bradley County, that understand that there is more that unites us than divides us.

We should begin to let those in leadership positions know that while the short, one-sentence political jabs may make the news, if it is not helping to build our county, make us safe and provide for our children’s and grandchildren’s future, then we will no longer accept their continued behavior. That gives spoiled children a bad name.

Thank you, citizens of Bradley County, for your continued efforts to build a better future while preserving our heritage in the process. This legacy of effort and responsibility are just more reasons that Bradley County is Tennessee at its best! 


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