People who actually study history say that history repeats itself. Another way of saying it is " we keep reinventing the wheel".
However I don’t think that is true. I think lessons are learned, it’s just that maybe the people that have actually learn these lessons graduate on to somewhere else to make way for a new class waiting in line to learn them.
In nearly every second grade class room in America they are teaching the children how to master basic phonetic spelling patterns, how to write in cursive and learn how to multiply and divide.
That is what you learn in the second grade.
The second grade teacher teaches the same lessons year in and year out.
Its not because kids are stupid it because every year she gets new students.
For example, I know for a fact that the world isn’t as barbaric as it used to be.
Once again, any scholar of ancient world history will tell you that the ancient world was about as cordial and civilized as two drunk men fighting over a virgin in a trailer park.
If we can use the grade school analogy here, the earth is like a one room school house where kindergarten and first graders learn basic stuff like, “if you can’t be civilized, the least you can do is at codify law to give the impression that you are.”
Eventually the concept of law evolved to the point where only first graders were comfortable here.
First graders probably looked like Mahatma Gandhi to these kindergartners because first graders only advocated raping and pillaging people had that were different than them.
Kindergartners saw no point in making such distinctions.
Still, first graders too would be notorious for their gross acts of inhumanity towards one another, especially by today’s standards, but at least first graders reserved that kind of behavior for outsiders and enemies of the city state.
Then at some point in time second graders began to show up here and there.
Once again, the first graders were probably saying to themselves, “who let these weirdoes in?”
Second graders were actually talking about making the world a better place.
To a second grader however, the ends justified the means. So if they feel that they have to wipe out an entire group to make the world a better place then so be it.
During this time that we have humanity mixed with both first and second graders humanity starts to deal with abstract ideas like, “greater good”, “selflessness” and "equal treatment of the law", if only within their own group.
This is when the concept of heroes began to sprout up. Before the concept of the greater good could be grasped there was no such thing as a hero.
Doing something heroic connotes concern for the welfare of others.
That didn't exist.
Now a hero would kill 10,000 bad guys to defend the honor of the city state. The Gods would smile down upon the people and give them somebody else's land as a reward for defending his city.
Gods never delivered their gifts. They just pointed people in the direction where they could find it.
All the people would have to do is go and mercilessly slaughter the ingrates already living in the land the Gods had so generously given and move their stuff in.
That is when they would call the hero and tell him he had more ass to kick.
Then we have where we are today, in the modern era, with second graders and third graders amongst us.
Now because of these third graders they tell us that, God now wants us to turn the other cheek instead of an eye for an eye. God wants us take care of the poor and the sick, donate to the tsunami relief effort, liberate Iraq from dictators, and not to be too vocal about what you really think about Bush so you don’t undermine the moral of the troops giving their lives to protect your freedoms.
Now we are aware of all of the higher concepts, like the “greater good”, “selflessness”, “sharing”, “equal treatment under the law” but practically none of us live by these concepts nor aspire to, unless of course if there is some personal advantage to be gained from appearing to do so like winning a seat in public office.
Maybe it’s because life is like a school, and we are all divided up based on our comprehension of universal truths that it seems like Ann Coulter is saying the same words that came out of Cardinal Robert Bellarmine’s mouth nearly 500 years earlier.
This would explain why Hitler could kill 6 million Jews over 12 years and 50 years later the Hutu could kill 800,000+ Tutsis in a little over 100 days in the tiny African nation of Rwanda.
That's what second graders do. They think the ends justify the means.
It would explain why Osama Bin Laden could say how glorious it was to see all the dead Americans in the world trade center bombings that he orchestrated, basically echoing what Raymond of Aguilers, chronicler of the Christian Crusaders' 1099 massacre of Jerusalem said when he saw massacred Muslims and Jews in the Temple of Solomon.
“Wonderful things were to be seen. Numbers of the Saracens [Muslims] were beheaded ... Others were shot with arrows, or forced to jump from the towers; others were tortured for several days, then burned with flames. In the streets were seen piles of heads and hands and feet. One rode about everywhere amid the corpses of men and horses. In the temple of Solomon, the horses waded in the blood up to their knees, nay, up to the bridle. It was a just and marvelous judgment of God, that this place should be filled with the blood of unbelievers.”
How about when it comes to acquiring knowledge as opposed to blind belief?
Cardinal Robert Bellarmine, the Cardinal who was sticking it to Galileo for asserting that he had evidence that the earth revolved around the Sun said this,
“To assert that the earth revolves around the sun is as erroneous as to claim that Jesus was not born of a virgin. To affirm that the Sun...is at the centre of the universe and only rotates on its axis without going from east to west, is a very dangerous attitude and one calculated not only to arouse all Scholastic philosophers and theologians but also to injure our holy faith by contradicting the Scriptures.”
Not only did he say that this knowledge was dangerous, but he actually considered that it was being put out there by Galileo with the intention of undermining faith in God.
By a show of hands, who out there really thinks that Galileo was motivated by an evil atheist liberal agenda to undermine Christian faith when he told people that the Earth revolved around the Sun and not the other way around?
And who ever said that you have to be ignorant of how things actually work to believe in God anyway?
Well just ask Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and he’ll tell ya.
Antonin Scalia said that “Devout Christians are destined to be regarded as fools in modern society. We are fools for Christ's sake. We must pray for courage to endure the scorn of the sophisticated world.”
William Jennings Bryan the Christian fundamentalist who argued for the prosecution in the Scopes Evolution trial said of religion and education, “If we have to give up either religion or education, we should give up education.” In other words, if finding out the truth means that something in the Bible is wrong then I we would do better not knowing the truth.
If the Catholic Church had learned anything from history you would think that after being wrong on the whole Sun/Earth thing and waging the credibility of the Bible in doing so, you would think that they would be more open to accepting evidence that we arrived at through the application of the scientific method.
The again, maybe we are moving forward.
I don’t think the Pope today thinks that the earth is the center of the universe and that the sun revolves around the earth.
However if you asked Cardinal Robert Bellarmine what he thought about a Pope one day believing that the Earth revolved around the Sun, he would probably tell you that if that ever happens then that means that Satan himself had made himself head of the Papacy.
I guess in this school analogy I’ve given, an “old soul” would either be someone who was asked to come back and teach those who are ready to move on or an old soul would be like that 16 year old who is held back twice in the 8th grade because no teacher can pass him on to the high school with a clear conscience.