"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be forever a child."
I'm fascinated by history. Not history as a set of immutable facts about artillery shells and wigged men marching in the parade of manifest destiny but, rather, history as the answer to the question of how now happened.
Gaining knowledge of history is the first step towards gaining control over the future. To attempt change without understanding the momentum of history is futile - like flies frantically waving their arms to re-direct traffic. History has its own momentum and the leaders who matter are those who learn to work with the force of history in the same way a judo expert uses an opponent's strength.
History has trends. George W. believes that democracy is the natural state of communities and ridding a community of a tyrant will automatically lead to the emergence of a democracy. The notion that democracy might require prerequisites, might be a developmental stage (and not even a final evolutionary stage) seems to elude him. History suggests that the unfolding of life and communities has a particular order.
It is only because of the patterns of history that we can live lives of coherence: we know that tomorrow the sun will rise at about 6:30 because it did today and the day before; we know that our retirement accounts will grow about 5 to 10% a year because they have for decades; we know that there will be demand for our skill next month because there was next month. Our lives are acts of prediction and that prediction comes from knowledge of the past. A community’s future is never better than its understanding of the past.
One of the things that history and the future have in common is that they are both unattainable through anything but today's understanding.