“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”
This quote is attributed to the philosopher George Santayana and summarizes his general concept of philosophy: history repeats itself. His thinking was that human behavior is constant even though our technology to engage in that behavior changes.
For example, look at what happened during and immediately after the Second World War to Asian-Americans. They were subjected to prejudice, intimidation, and even imprisonment—simply because they looked a certain way.
When the Pandemic started getting more serious in the national attention back in February, my wife’s friend (who is Asian-American) posted a story on Facebook where some ignorant people were treating her very differently because of her ethnicity. The connection was obvious. And history repeated itself.
I’m not writing today about history so much as I’m wanting you to see the danger of not thinking something through. That’s an advantage history gives us: it’s static and we can analyze it without it shifting on us.
Proverbs 13:16 instructs us this way:
All who are prudent act with knowledge, but fools expose their folly.Proverbs 13:16 New International Version
The Hebrew (the original language of most of the Old Testament) word translated “prudent” means someone who is sensible and uses sound judgment in making decisions.
Thus, what the author is saying is all those who are sensible and use sound judgment in making decisions act with knowledge. They put their information into action. They possess intelligence and wisdom.
They approach a situation with critical thinking skills. They ask the six journalistic questions: who, what, when, where, why, and how. They act based on knowledge and wisdom.
The alternative is “folly” or (in the language of the Old Testament) foolishness based on emotionalism. And Scripture is saying when someone acts on emotionalism, they are exposing their foolishness. Wow!
Don’t get me wrong; we are emotional beings. The Lord made us that way. That’s part of the nature God impressed into us. Emotions aren’t evil or bad; they are wonderful.
But as I’ve seen the response to the Pandemic I’m not surprised by those who do not profess Jesus as Lord. I’m surprised by those who do. There’s so much fear. There’s emotionalism running crazy in our hearts and heads.
The Lord makes it clear what we’re acting like when we do this: foolish.
Instead, we’re given the gift of prudence. We can be sensible and use sound judgment when we make decisions—about the Pandemic or otherwise.
We can subject our leaders’ directives not as “Gospel,” but subject the directives to critical thinking. We can ask the aforementioned six journalistic questions.
Imagine how much better your heart is going to feel when your head steps in and does its job to calm you, center you, and restore your mental balance.
Act with knowledge, dear one. Keep your head about you. Take a deep breath.
It was panic and emotionalism causing us as a nation to mistreat Asian-Americans during and after the Second World War. It was the same panic and emotionalism causing someone to mistreat my wife’s friend just a couple of months ago.
Emotionalism will lead you to folly, dear Christian. Sensibility and good judgment will not only guide you, but will allow you to guide others who get swept away with their emotions.
Remember that “those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” Learn the lessons associated with emotionalism. Be prudent. Be wise. Be calm.