Historians have long claimed that history repeats itself. Actually, it is not difficult to notice it yourself if you can spend some hours studying history. However, what is less examined is why this repetition happens in the first place. This article hopes to give some food for thought on the matter.
Ambition as the underlying factor
If we have to notice one thing that is the most common in the examples of repeated history, it would be no other than ambition. People naturally strive to achieve and have more in their lives. There are different expressions of this desire to improve our lives. It can be power, wealth, religion, sex, love, spirituality.
Every person wants to improve their lives. And there are certain steps they can take to make this happen. They can accumulate more power or wealth, they can devote themselves to a certain religion or divine entity, or they can build great relationships with others. Because these aspirations are common to most people, history seems to repeat itself.
For example, when the power lies to a certain individual such as a king, then this king is naturally not satisfied with his possessions, no matter how big or rich his kingdom is. If his expression of ambition is power or wealth (in contrast to relationships or divine), then he would want to conquer new lands. This has been the main reason why wars really happen: some people want more and more power.
Mind as the recycling bin
Another reason why history may repeat itself is the way our minds work. To be specific, our mind, or at least an aspect of our mind, can be described as a recycling bin. Throughout our lives, we collect information from the outside and store it in our minds in the form of memory. Whatever we think depends on the data we have stored in our memory, either consciously or unconsciously.
From a certain perspective and in a very bizarre way, our opinions, judgements and conclusions are not really ours. We have borrowed them from our surroundings. For example, because you read a certain textbook, you strongly believe one thing. At the same time, because someone else read a different view or had a different experience, they have another view on the very same matter.
You could have a different opinion on a sensitive matter if you had lived in another country. At the same time, we are all exposed to each other’s views and opinions, including those that lived before us. This means the past can have a direct effect on how we behave. For example, because Julius Caesar’s role model was Alexander the Great, Caesar campaigned in Gaul and aspired to be a great conqueror, just like Alexander.
History does not need to repeat itself
The circle of life is not only evident in our history and societies. It can also be seen within ourselves. To see that, you can carefully notice your own life so far. Do you notice any repetitions in the form of experiences? The same things may not happen again but the way you experience stuff can follow a circle.
For example, for no reason at all, you feel a bit down for a certain period of time. This goes away just as it appeared but it happens again in the future. Things may also be subtler than that. With a larger perspective, our entire bodies follow a circle from the earth to where are now and then back to the earth. After all, our bodies are just an accumulation of food that essentially comes from the earth.
No matter how we want to present it, it is not all doom and gloom. History does not need to repeat itself. Life can move in circles or it can move in a line. It is up to us to decide. Because most of the time we are not conscious of this choice, we tend to move in circles.
- People naturally strive to achieve and have more in their lives. This can find expressions in power, wealth, religion, sex, love or spirituality. Because these aspirations are common to most people, history seems to repeat itself.
- Whatever we think depends on the data we have stored in our memory, either consciously or unconsciously. This can be another reason why history repeats itself
- No matter what we can see, history does not need to repeat itself. Life can move in circles or it can move in a line. It is up to us to decide which path we shall follow