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A Knowledge of the Past is Our Hope for the Future

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

It is Hegel who is attributed with the pronouncement, “History teaches us that men learn nothing from history.”  History is such a fascinating thing, a very useful tool in wise, moderate, moral hands, and humanity robs itself of its ignorance of the past.  Not only that, we destroy our country.  Here are three quotes from history that can enlighten us.


1.  Cicero

Roman orator and statesman Cicero in 55 B.C.:  

"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome becomes bankrupt.  People must again learn to work instead of living on public assistance."  

Substitute “America” for his one reference to “Rome,” and he could have spoken those exact same words today, in 2023, in the United States.

Cicero delivered that admonition 28 years before the fall of the Roman Republic. 

2.  From the Czech Republic

I don’t know who said the following.  It is attributed to somebody in the Czech Republic about the year 2012, eleven years ago.   It doesn’t really matter; he/she was obviously one of the most perceptive visionaries so far, in the 21st century.  It sums up, incredibly, the trends tending in the United States over the past few decades, especially 2008-16.  It is a brilliant analysis:

"The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting an inexperienced man like him with the Presidency. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama Presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their President. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails America. Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince. The Republic can survive Barack Obama. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their President."


Can anybody, anywhere, improve on that?

Don’t blame Obama.  Don’t blame Biden.  Or Pelosi, or Schumer, or McConnell, or anybody else in Washington, D.C. (or your state government).  The fault lies squarely, wholly, unmistakably, and forever with the fools who elected them in the first place.  And their number is legion and appears to be growing.

Now go back and read the Cicero quote again.

3.  Booker T. Washington

Two quotes from this great man, the first in 1911: 

"There is another class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs—partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances because they do not want to lose their jobs. I am afraid that there is a certain class of race-problem solvers who don't want the patient to get well because as long as the disease holds out, they have not only an easy means of making a living but also an easy medium through which to make themselves prominent before the public." 

Except for now politically incorrect usage of “colored people” and “Negro,” this statement could also have been made today by any perceptive watcher of America.  Nothing has changed in the last 112 years, at least in this regard, for black Americans.  Mr. Washington didn’t know the term “race hustler,” which wasn’t used in his day (he said “race-problem solvers”); it is the same group of people, only 110 years apart.  They are every bit as prominent and destructive today—if not more so—as they were when Booker T. Washington bemoaned their existence in 1911.  


Mr. Washington also made the following declaration, which is very sad because, frankly, and thanks to the Democratic Party, it still hasn’t happened for far too many black people in America: 

"I want to see my race live such high and useful lives that they will not be merely tolerated, but they shall actually be needed and wanted because of their usefulness to the community." 

That ought to bring tears to our eyes.

What a great man Booker T. Washington was.  He wanted blacks to rise to the level of other Americans, to earn their respect and honor by hard work, self-discipline, and, yes, by the content of their character.  Many have.  But that doesn’t fit the needs of the Democratic Party. So they continue to stifle the development of black people by their insistent lies about “racism,” “affirmative action,” and welfare policies that destroy black families and communities.  The Democratic Party cares absolutely nothing about black Americans except how they vote.  

I have said it before, and I will not cease to say it until/unless it changes:  the Democratic Party is the most evil institution on earth today.  And what they have done to black Americans is one of the most apparent evidence of that.

Karl Marx again:  “Keep people from their history, and they are easily controlled.” Leftist intellectuals not only distort what history cannot be hidden but hide whatever is not conducive to their craving for control.  There were countless wise minds who lived before us, and we should diligently seek their wisdom and guidance.  But if we do, they will lead us down a completely different and more virtuous, righteous, and fulfilling path than Joe Biden and the Democratic Party wish to take us.  That is why it behooves the Democrats to keep us ignorant of history.  And why it behooves the rest of us to study it.


Knowledge of the past is our hope for the future.

Check out my new Substack for articles and podcasts at  Free signup. My third Rob Conners western novel, Return to River Bend, is now available (Kindle version only). Purchase it, along with Whitewater and River Bend, on Amazon, B&N, and  Allie’s Dilemma is also available on Kindle only.   Also, search YouTube “mark kevin lewis” for my Bible commentary videos.  Twitter: @thailandmkl

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