Will we finally learn the Lessons of History?

Posted by on Feb 19, 2013 in Humanity, Our Future | 4 comments

Will we finally learn the Lessons of History?

In last week’s blog, The Three Main Lessons of History, I posited what I believe are the three major concerns which have confronted and threatened Humanity since our species Homo sapiens first arose on Planet Earth in its modern form some 50,000 years ago. These concerns represent the three major threats to the continued survival of our species, both historically and currently, and both to our civilizations and to our very existence.

Some are man-made others are natural however we can prevent and prepare for both kinds of threats and challenges utilizing the maturity of wisdom and foresight. We can finally today with our new knowledge, understandings and incredible tools for sharing information and communication.  The question remains as to whether we will take the lessons and evidence of our history to heart and act accordingly. Our future depends on the answer.

To summarize, the three major historic and continuing threats and challenges I identified last week are:

1. Violence and War

The propensity for violence at all levels of personal and societal interaction when conflicts arise exacerbated by greed, hatred and the lust for power, empowered today by our societies mass-producing weapons of every kind all the time, expending massive societal resources on national conflicts and war, and our cultures exulting in and promoting violence through popular culture such as in films, television and video games. It is an unprecedented epidemic of violence, violent imagery and “implied societal approval” in today’s world. There is no reason to ask “Why did he kill all those children?” or “Why do they hate us?” The answers are all too clear as I just enunciated. It appears to me we suffer a “collective insanity” in this regard.  One popular definition of “insanity” is: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Exactly! (See my blog War and Peace 2012 for further discussion).

2. The Decline and Collapse of Previous Civilizations

Almost all previous human civilizations and empires eventually fell to ruin usually through either unintended ecological collapse or the unintended price of conquest. Both causes are of course often interconnected and reinforcing. Instructive examples are from the fate of the people of Easter Island and that of the Roman Empire which remains the primary example of an empire that ultimately implodes due to the unintended price of conquest and thus of empire itself. Another lesson far from learned and a further case of “collective insanity”. How else can one truly describe our behaviour?

3. Recurring Natural and Cosmic Threats to Life on Earth

From massively destructive forces of natural events such as super-volcanoes  earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, floods, etc. to Cosmic events such as asteroids or comets striking the earth, coronal mass ejections from the Sun, Supernova’s, Gamma Ray bursts from the Cosmos, etc. Much of our understanding of these planetary and cosmic events has only come from scientific study over the last 100 years or so and the evidence for their destructive potential is now extremely clear. The large-scale threats include doomsday events which would lead to almost all life on Earth becoming extinct. The final lesson and example of our “collective insanity” today. I don’t know how much we as nations collectively spend on research and preparation for and avoidance of such devastating natural and cosmic events annually but I imagine it is a minuscule percentage of the $1.5 TRILLION our nations spend annually on direct military and armaments alone. Collective insanity without a doubt! And especially today when what previously were purely natural disasters caused by hurricanes, tsunamis,  floods are now being severely exacerbated and increasing due to Human impact on our Planet.  And that will only get worse in the short-term at least of course.

A very grim picture  indeed but I do know, from my life experience and that of millions of others, that all crises, threats and challenges contain within them the corresponding opportunities for appropriate changes in our behaviour. We urgently need to address the opportunities presented when confronted by the evidence that such change is absolutely essential for success. That’s where our uniquely human abilities for wisdom and foresight and the necessary corresponding actions come in. If we so collectively choose sanity over insanity now and in future.

The main Law of Evolution for species on Earth, applicable to our current situation is quite simply: “Adapt (to the changing environment) or Perish”. This law is writ large in nature. All species that ever evolved on Earth were ultimately faced with that Law. The vast majority have perished as we  now know thanks to Science. We have the evolutionary advantage of our brains and minds which means that wisdom and foresight can become primary traits of our species hopefully called “Homo sapiens”. We have the ability today but do we also have the understanding and will to do so?

These historic and current major threats/challenges can also be viewed as simple lessons that history has been trying to teach us for thousands of years but which we seem to generally ignore and never learn. Thus we have never been able to leave the elementary level class of Human History 101. Now it’s pretty much the last day of school and if we don’t learn these basic and simple lessons now and finally once and for all, we will not only not graduate from elementary school to a higher level school but our school will be closed as there may no longer be any students around to attend. The final closing bell is starting to sound!

To learn these lessons requires collective maturity, wisdom, foresight and ‘acting today for tomorrow’, together with leaders who represent the interests of all humanity not just their ‘people’ (which today seems to primarily represent their own, their families and their supporter’s interests far above anyone else.) Such learning also requires the global public to be fully informed, aware, empowered, and actively engaged in building a better world and a positive future utilizing our incredible new tools of connection, communication and collaboration.

At the end of last week’s blog I said I would provide a path to a positive future for Humanity. I have written about such a path in previous blogs especially Our Evolutionary Future, The Best 2013 Can Become?, and Hope for Humanity – Our Path to a Positive Future.

I will recap some of those prescriptions, however, the bottom line remains the same. It is always up to each one of us as individual global citizens, with access to all previous human knowledge and history for the first time ever, to become informed of our great challenges and opportunities and act with goodwill and for the greater good, together with millions of others worldwide in shared community, utilizing our new tools and especially our web-based tools that continue to rapidly evolve. The shared mission and goal is always a “Peaceful and Sustainable World and Future.” To get there we must shift our collective path basically 180 degrees. Ervin Laszlo coined this urgently needed shift to be a “Worldshift” in 2008.

This shift has certainly begun and is picking up great momentum in many areas and many parts of the world. However will it be on the scope and scale that is needed and in sufficient time to avoid the overall collapse of our existing global global civilization and our our very continued existence?  Our global systems are all now in the process of breaking down and the threats to our continuing survival grow more dangerous and intractable each day. (See State of Global Emergency Declaration 2008)

To truly begin in earnest, I believe that we must utilize our new web-based tools and platforms for information gathering, connection and collaboration to firstly reach a consensus upon a set Universal Values, Principles and Ethics collectively agreed upon, based on 80 to 90% of the global public being in agreement, and which Values also to include the values that are found in all our Religions and thus are “Divinely inspired” by definition. The next step then must be effective and widespread Action on all fronts to implement the obvious ‘Global Societal Goals’ that result from these agreed upon Universal Human Values as we co-design the New World that we all desire to live in for ourselves and all future generations. Which again can simply be expressed as a “Peaceful and Sustainable World and Future”. A positive future!

That is not at all our present path of course.  Our present path will lead us to an evolutionary dead-end as ignorance, greed and the lust for power continue to dominate interminably.

Let us now imagine these Lessons have been learned. What would our societies look like if we were collectively sane as a species instead of insane as we clearly are today?

1. Violence would be banned and shunned in all societies at all levels of society from domestic violence and youth gang violence  to conflicts and wars between nations. Violence would be viewed as we view the social acceptability of Slavery today – as 100% unacceptable.  Our Cultures of Violence promotion will become Cultures of Non-Violence promotion reflected in all media and education. Arms manufacturers who make the weapons of destruction and mass destruction from hand-guns to cruise missiles to nuclear bombs would have to convert their industrial infra-structure to products that assist humanity and promote our “peaceful and sustainable world” or be shut down as engaging in anti-social activity of which it surely is. No one would need guns for “self-defense” if no one but the proper legal authorities had them!

The following prophetic statement was written thousands of years ago and preserved in the Bible. It remains what we urgently want and need and today more then ever as the power of our weapons has increased so greatly since then as to destroy all Life on Earth.  May it soon come to pass:

“And many people shall go and say, come ye and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the House of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in His paths. And He shall judge among the nations and shall rebuke many people, and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against Nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” Isaiah 2:3-4

2. The deep lessons learned from the decline and collapse of previous civilizations and empires through either unintended ecological collapse or the unintended price of conquest would be well known to every school child. Everyone would understand that repeating the same behaviours while expecting different results is indeed a very destructive form of collective insanity. No “leader” who ever promoted such well-known insane acts such as the destruction of our life-dependent eco-systems or threatening to attack another nation or people would be elected to any responsible societal position. Our leaders serve their people and life itself in this World.

3.  Resources to anticipate, prepare for, and ameliorate the effects of natural, natural- human exacerbated, and cosmic disasters are a societal priority in every nation and land. The funding for same is now 1,000 times that of the funds allocated for Defense especially since we’ve now we’ve now looked in the mirror and finally seen that the true enemy of peace and sustainable prosperity  for all is us – as in the insane world of today!

So Shall it Be! If not, then it was a very long and interesting ride for Humanity but we reached the end of our road.



  1. Very good comments. I agree about the “insane” part. The interesting question is where did it come from? What trauma are we avoiding. You may enjoy this set of comments: http://www.matttaylor.com/public/papers_06/a_future_by.htm

    • Thanks very much Matt. I’ll look forward to viewing your comments now that I’m back in Toronto after a trip to Tulum, Mexico.

  2. Dear David, thank you, thank you for your blogs – we are on the same page; the situation is so urgent, you describe it dead-on – I have been working intensively on preparing new approaches in the two largest and “hard headed” institutions of the planet: mainstream sports and public education. If we are able to transform the o-so-sticky paradigms of these two thick-walled castles, we can prepare a new generation that will finally become “collectively sane”. I would love to exchange ideas with you… Global citizens as we are, in my researches about the best place to initiate educational and sportive transformative projects, Canada is number one… and in Canada: Ontario…!

    Your blogs are filled with the same intensity as Chaplin’s “best speech ever”, he tried to give this “wake up call” in “The Great Dictator” made in 1940, when the USA still thought it was “not so bad” in Europe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcvjoWOwnn4

    I believe that the key to reach the young generation, plugged as they are in increasing i-techno devices, is through art & entert(r)ainment created for those same devices.
    Warm greetings from a Dutchman in Quebec

  3. It was very good of you to include the Biblical prophecy of Isaiah. I am convinced that this “Meeting at the Mountain of the Lord(YHWH)” – which “happens” to be the center point (Tsiyun-Zion) of the earth’s continents – seeking for renewed global instruction is the very proper project to fulfill the goals you’ve set and I’m committed to its virtual and then actual realizations.
    Note, however, that it was the experience of developing military systems (primarily defensive) that allowed the graduates of the IDF to make Israel “The Start-Up Nation” and that to blow an astroid off-course there will be need for an A-bomb and some new space technologies. (I shall write details about the last on to you personally).

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