The World War II generation implored us to “Never Forget!” the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. And for many years, radio, TV, newspapers and magazines shouted the message annually, complete with photos, film and recordings. Does anybody remember any kind of meaningful remembrance on a recent December 7th? Neither do I. And the sneak attack on the Twin Towers is slowly being forgotten, soon to be relegated to the same kind of dim memory as Pearl Harbor. And with the fading memory go the critical lessons. Worse, there are key parts of our history that most of us never knew about in the first place.
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The World War II generation implored us to “Never Forget!” the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7th, 1941. And for many years, radio, TV, newspapers and magazines shouted the message annually, complete with photos, film and recordings. Does anybody remember any kind of meaningful remembrance on a recent December 7th? Neither do I. And the sneak attack on the Twin Towers is slowly being forgotten, soon to be relegated to the same kind of dim memory as Pearl Harbor. And with the fading memories go the critical lessons. Worse, there are key parts of our history that most of us never knew about in the first place.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana. I’d add that those who never knew the history in the first place are also condemned to repeat it. And we are not talking about pleasant repetitions, we are talking about the unnecessary ugliness of needless suffering from repeating the same mistakes.
Here’s another one, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” Alexander Pope, from his poem, An Essay on Criticism. His point is that a little learning or knowledge can only lead us into thinking that we know more than we do. Cliches, slogans, sound bites and preconceived notions are prime examples of a little knowledge. His solution? Simple. Know more. Before we have the right to open our mouths about anything at all meaningful, we need to 1. Know the facts. Not some of them. All–or at least the majority–of the important facts and 2. Apply non agenda-based thinking to those facts to come up with conclusions, solutions or courses of actions. Facts, the law correctly calls them evidence, and has rules about what is a fact and what is not. Someone else’s opinion is not a fact. Let’s try an example, from a fictional cable channel. “Senator Blowhard from XY state says there are 500K illegals in his state.” Stated as a fact in this hypothetical example. Now this. “Senator Blowhard from XY state hates immigrants.” Really? The commentator is making the leap from Blowhard’s citing a fact to an assumption of Blowhard’s beliefs. Perhaps the Senator does or does not hate immigrants, but nothing here justifies that conclusion. Be suspicious about that conclusion and others like it, and certainly do not repeat them.
Know your history and facts. All facts are historical. If it is not historical, it is a prediction. And by definition predictions are not facts.
The admonition to Never Forget is a way of urging us to know what happened and to keep the lessons that come from that knowledge in near-term memory. Let’s look at some Never Forget examples:
- 9/11. Do we know what happened? Who were the perpetrators? Why did they do it? What are the lessons that we can apply?
- Pearl Harbor. Who did what to whom and why? What are the lessons?
- The Holocaust. How was that allowed to happen? And it was allowed to happen over several years. How can we promise ourselves that something like this will never happen again?
- Vietnam. Was this something more than the wrong war at the wrong time in the wrong place? And if we did the right thing in Korea just over a decade earlier, why was intervening in Vietnam wrong? BTW, we all know the what, why and how in the Korean War, right?
- Neville Chamberlain’s negotiations in Munich. No, I am not going to give any more clues. But it was a pivotal moment in the 20th century. And not just for the US.
In addition to learning the invaluable lessons from history, knowing what happened and why can protect you and others from the agenda-driven falsehoods, lies, actually, that become easier to get away with as memories are allowed to fade. Or if the knowledge wasn’t there to forget in the first place. Let’s walk through the list again.
- 9/11. The lie: The US and Israel pulled this off with the intention of blaming Islamic radicals. In addition to simply making the claim, appealing to those who see the US and Israel as partners in oppressing Muslims and Arabs, they say that buildings like the twin towers could not possibly collapse on themselves like that. “Steel can’t melt in a fire” is the claim.
- Pearl Harbor. The lie: President Roosevelt and senior officials in his administration knew of the attack in advance, and said nothing so they could get the US into WWII.
- The Holocaust. The lie. This one is as easy to state as it is outrageous. The lie is that it simply never happened. If someone said that to you in front of others, what would you have to respond with?
- Vietnam: The lie: The US lost the war militarily, and committed war crimes along the way.
- Munich: The lie happened at the time, “Peace for our time.” A quote from Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Neville Chamberlain, in his September 30th, 1938 speech concerning the Munich Agreement and the Anglo-German Declaration. The agreement was with Hitler. War started September 1st, 1939. What is the lesson here?
We won’t do it together now, but take a moment and go through the list and talk to yourself and others about what you see as the lessons, and how we might apply those lessons today.
Today’s key points. 1. You need to know your stuff, or the people around us who are making it up as they go along to support their agendas will win the day. 2. Agendas should arise out of facts. To many agendas are being propped up by distorted or wholly invented “facts.”
Let’s apply the two Results With Reason main tenets to today’s issues. The two main tenets that we believe in at Results With Reason are:
- Personal Responsibility; practice it, teach it and
- Be Your Brother’s Keeper.
Today’s application is straightforward:
- Personal Responsibility. Know your stuff. Engage in the political conversation. Talk to people about what we need to know to get to the right answers.
- Be your Brother’s Keeper. Be patient with each other; some will understand what you saying immediately, others will not. Teach and encourage; don’t criticize and reject. Love and lead. Remember, we are all in this together.
Now it is time for our usual parting thought. For us at Results With Reason, it is not only change your thinking, change your life. It is change your thinking, change your actions, change the world. And if we, you and I, don’t do something, then the others who are doing something, will continue to run the show.
Remember: Knowledge by itself is the booby prize.
Will Luden, writing to you from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.