Understanding History is the Key to a Better Future.

I am told that there is a proverbial phrase among the Inuit: ‘A long time ago, in the future.’ Let the children see our history and maybe it will help to shape the future.

~Romeo LeBlanc

If you’ve been following my public social media pages on Facebook or my semi-private companion discussion group, over the last decade or so, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been increasingly sharing more and more information from historians. These range from the profanity laced lessons of James Fell to the almost daily deep dives of Professor Heather Cox Richardson to guide us as we discuss our #Culturalinertia and how to change it where necessary.

It is vital to understand our history to understand what we have experienced, overcome, endured, or accepted in order to get to where we are today.

How else can we recognize whether the problems we are facing now are a new trend, a resurgence of an old problem we believed conquered and forgotten, or something so deeply entrenched in the inertia of our culture that we barely even recognize it as a problem anymore unless it directly affects us or someone we care deeply enough about to wake up and take notice.

Today, on NPR’s Fresh Air, host Terry Gross interviewed the leader of one of the best deep-dive investigative journalism teams of this era, Rachel Maddow.

If you can find the time for nothing else this week, please, I implore you, set aside the 43 minutes to listen to this important interview.

The purpose of the interview is a discussion revolving around Ms. Maddow’s 9 part podcast entitled “Ultra.” It is an Apple podcast available on iTunes. The historical story Ms. Maddow weaves together in the series has already had its movie rights optioned by Steven Spielberg.

In the podcast’s 9 episodes, Ms. Maddow explores a period of American history between World War I and World War II. “The all-but-forgotten true story of good, old-fashioned American extremism getting supercharged by proximity to power. When extremist elected officials get caught plotting against America with the violent ultra right, this is the story of the lengths they will go to… to cover their tracks.” It documents the history of sitting members of Congress conspiring with a known Nazi agent to implement Hitler’s plot to overthrow the American government before we could enter World War II. Insurrectionists criminally charged with plotting to end American democracy for good. Justice Department prosecutors under crushing political pressure. 

If you do find the time to listen to the whole podcast series, when it is over, it will be impossible not to see all the direct links and parallels of the “America First” efforts of those sitting congress members and their most famous spokesman Charles Lindbergh with the modern “America First” movement and its most famous spokesman Donald Trump.

Whether you listen to the whole series or not, after you listen to the interview, please, I implore you, join me in a resolution for the coming year and then forever after.

Let us resolve to stop using words like “unprecedented” and “unbelievable” for things that have already happened, are still happening, and will keep happening until we put an end to them.

Refuse to allow the normalization of things that must be corrected by dismissing them as one-off anomalies that will self-correct if we just have enough patience and blind-faith trust in the centuries old systems that allow them to keep recurring.

Let us fully embrace the most important tool we have for making a better future, a true deep understanding of the history that has lead to our present.

History, in illuminating the past, illuminates the present, and in illuminating the present, illuminates the future.

~Benjamin Cardozo

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