Monday, 31 December 2012

Starting from where we are

Those who don't study history are condemned to repeat it is a wise adage. Studying history can lead to regret, remorse and resentment, through bewilderment, to amazement, as we see the dreadful things we (political units) have done to each other but also the amazing things we (sceintists and artist of all kinds) have achieved.

It is vital to remember, especially when looking at negative events in history, that we can only move on from where we are now. This thought was provoked in me by  a more controversial subject - crime and punishment. An offender has done what s/he has done, and blame can achieve nothing, only learning from what has happened can help us. In its broadest sense, history simply means everything that has happened. It cannot be changed.

All individuals' actions are informed by events that have impinged on them up until the point of the action. Right the way from conception, when the individual inherited parental genes, through every event and thought up until the action in question. This applies just as much to those who have done marvellous, positive things, as to those who have done something awful.

Punishing those who have done something wrong adds to the catalogue of events that shape their future decisions. Whist we may be tempted as a society to pay back bad actions with other bad actions, we really have to swalow the idea that making constructive things happen to people will (or is more likely to) make their later actions constructive. If you could punish your washing machine for breaking down, would you do so? No - when it breaks you fix it.

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