Dear editor,

"Not to know what has been transacted in former times is to be always a child. If no use is made of the labors of past ages, the world must remain always in the infancy of knowledge."

Cicero was a Roman senator in 10 b.c. over 2,000 years ago. Paraphrasing his comment, "Those who do not know history are children."

To some extent we have all forgotten prominent issues and events of our distant past. Many take little effort in remembering major events and most give little effort and energy remembering crucial details of their past.

Whether by design, demand or laziness, we tend to short change our community history, overlook governmental history and many times dismiss our own family history. We remain overwhelmed by demanding current activities, chores and commitments while failing to realize the value of what has happened in our past.

We busy our days with demanding issues and approach the future with corrections, diversions and paradoxes as we follow our loves and demands like deer caught in headlights. Unable to see beyond the blinding dilemmas in our path, we divert, shun and fear the past and future like bad dreams.

One factor of life, which we cannot change, is the past, both personal, community and world history. Most carry their history like old cloth rags. They are handy for cleaning up messes, but they have negligible use for current and future needs. What was once a fine shirt, pretty dress or snow-white cotton socks become a tool to mop up dirt, grime, grease and spills on the way to the garbage.

But then writes a man, a senator of the Roman government, over 2,000 years ago, to remind us that history is indeed not just important but paramount. He further expands his conclusion to proclaim if anyone knows not history, they are a child.

One trade explains this clearly, the construction industry. The Egyptian pyramids still stand today. Any engineer today worth his salt would have no problem using the same concepts, principles and methods of engineering to build today’s structures. Materials have changed, and tools are different but mathematical calculations of structural engineering remain the same.

Everything is or will soon be history. To learn of yesterday is to create, design and construct foundations for today. Lessons proven and tried in the past are paramount principles of modern day designs. 

There is no more insightful, endearing, comforting and tangible paradigm than to realize and know our own history. To realize, we stand where someone else stood having the same thoughts and some of the same ideas that are crossing our minds.

How enriching and comforting to embrace their knowledge, their challenge, their drive, their determination, while embracing our own unique desires and dreams.

The more we look back to history, the more we realize and understand our future.  Historical principles and concepts confirm lasting foundational evidence for tomorrow.

The future becomes clearer and more satisfying because of the enormity of our rear-view mirror.

MICHAEL JOHNSON

Bagdad

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