Prompt 010: History Repeating Itself
10. It's been said that the negative events of the past will repeat themselves if we fail to learn from our mistakes. Do you agree with that statement? Why or why not? How might the statement apply in your life?
If you live, you'll learn from your mistakes. If you don't learn, then it will eventually lead to your demise.
I think this is demonstrable even on a macro level, with the majority of human society and where it finds itself. This is where I'll start. Humanity and its dominant cultural forces spent all this time valuing the proliferation of humanity all over the planet, in all biospheres. Now humans are crawling all over, but on and in a planet covered with pollution, depleted diversity of animal and plantlife, depleted fundamental resources like clean fresh water and clean air to breathe... The rich have clung to their ill-gotten gains and have refused to clean up after themselves and/or share the wealth.
There were plenty of crucial crossroads which pointed to the depletion of natural resources, or scaling back. Since the dominant culture preferred the status quo, it largely ignored the consequences of "limitless economic growth," in particular the effect on the planet in which we live. I explained this to someone recently: "There's critique of technological advance as always prioritizing the proliferation and procreation of humans above all else. This mindset created problems, so technology is developed to mitigate - as opposed to solve - the problems, and pretty much just kick the can down the road."
Humanity has - or rather, its decision-makers have - no intention of changing. So now the planet has been irreparably harmed by human activity, and there's somehow still a debate that the planet and everything that lives on it is pretty much screwed.
If we scale this back, and look at it from a microcosmic perspective - individual people - it's much easier, but variables are much more fixed. As individuals, there's so much more that's beyond our sphere of control. So we deal with what we can personally manage: personal relationships, personal health, and a limited sense of our environment. Those are pretty much the big three things we can address on our own. Of course, when we have broken tools to work with (like shitty parents, a polluted and/or unsafe environment, a dominant culture of rampant consumption, for example), it makes any kind of positive movement forward more challenging.
I'm convinced that life is nothing more than a big chore. It's difficult for one to resemble anything other than a worker ant in the hill. I'll likely always remember how Peter Wessel Zapffe described it thusly: "Bringing children into the world is like bringing firewood to a burning house."
There are a few things you can do in your life once you acknowledge this: isolation, anchoring, distraction and sublimation. Isolation is removing oneself from society, becoming a hermit. Anchoring is identifying with some cause (like a religion, or political party, for instance) to forge a sense of belonging or shared experience with others, so you don't "feel alone." Distraction is easy: finding something relatively inconsequential to occupy your time and attention. Sublimation is finding a positive outlet for this existential dread: the creative pursuits, caregiving of others and other things, safeguarding the environment, etc.
We learn from other members of this dominant culture: our elders, our superiors. We observe what they do and what they get away with in the pursuit of their own objectives, and attempt to apply it to ourselves. If you don't get what you want, then you just didn't apply yourself enough (even if it was a shitty thing you just did).
But if all you know is to yell back at those who attempt to tease or personally insult you, if all you know is that the man of the house is the one in charge, if all you know is that it's okay to take stuff that doesn't belong to you as long as nobody sees you do it... Well, it doesn't look like a mistake. Those who critically examine what they are, what they're doing, and how it affects not just other people but their environment around them, are few and far between. Becoming more rare as time goes on.
Is sublimation valued in this society? I don't think it is. So if people have chosen to take this route, and are rejected by the dominant culture, then they feel like they made a mistake. The result is that they turn more towards distraction or anchoring to still participate in society, but in the "approved" ways. Personally I feel like I've moved towards "isolation" while still attempting to hang on to my sublimation efforts.
Why else would I be writing in an anonymous online diary?