Historical Perspective

The principal difficulty with historical perspective is that we don’t live in history, we live in the present, and our lives and affairs so ephemeral, historically speaking, as to be over and done in the space of a single breath. The history of our times as ultimately recorded is entirely dependent on externalities beyond our immediate knowledge, understanding or control. Our savants predict the future as confidently as the weathermen predict a coming storm, but the direction and intensity of the storm depends on the vagaries of the Gulf Stream, the Jet Stream, and how the Pacific Ocean feels at any given moment. Future events cannot be accurately predicted as they depend on the actions of unseen and unknown actors and the unanticipated confluence of events in far off places. This is not to say you don’t try. This is not to say you cannot see into the future at all. You can make an educated guess, and often you will be right, but mostly your view of the future is cloudy, distorted, and limited to the next few minutes.

The Augustan world was stable
And the entrails augured well
Yet Augustus was not able
To see that his brief held spell
As the ruler of creation
Was a step upon the stair
That a cruel and barbarous nation
Was to shortly be his heir
So it is with those now living
So intent on dire events
That they see not unforgiving
So intent on lives intense
Nonetheless if one dies trying
To do right or to compete
There are things still worth the dying
One must not accept defeat
Nations brave know in times distant
Writers who well know the end
Will declaim in voice insistent
That your knee did never bend

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