Nothing Changes But The Details

Everything has antecedents. Consider the world today had Carthage conquered Rome and razed it to the ground, putting its inhabitants to the sword and fire, the city of Rome salted and disappearing forever as did Carthage at the hands of Scipio’s grandson. There would be no such religion as Christianity, the history of Europe would have been completely different, and the present so different as to be unimaginable since hardly any Europeans living today would ever have been born. What would the United States of today be like had there been no American slavery? Hardly anyone alive today would have been born due to the 600,000 young men who died in the Civil War not being alive to marry and have children, the women they would have married marrying different men and having different children. There would have been no Willy Mays or Louis Armstrong, and Greensleeves would still be a Top Forty hit. We can, however, imagine a world in which Gavrilo Princip did not shoot and kill the Archduke Ferdinand, unleashing a World War that saw the rise of the Soviet Union and the collapse of the German, Ottoman, Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires. Had there been no World War 1, there would have been no Hitler, no World War 2, no Stalin, no Soviet Union, no Mao and no Communist China, no Korean War, no Viet Nam, no atom bombs and no hydrogen bombs. The world of 2016 without the world of World War 1916 would have been quite different than it is. Would there have been a 1920s jazz age in the United States? Doubtful. Jet aircraft? Doubtful. Would there be wars and rumors of wars? Absolutely. Would there have been poverty and unrest in most of the world? Absolutely. History is very clear – nothing changes but the details.

The past is past and now is cast in stone
But past was once the future still unknown
And history is but the writing of the might have beens
Had only future destinies been shown
We think the past predestined, set by fate
And written in a book by verse and date
That those who’ve gone before were well aware of future sins
That all would become clear if we but wait
The present is the past but yet to come
What’s gone before is added to the sum
Of all the many losses and of all the many wins
That tell us where we are and where we’re from

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