We liked that line.
It popped up as we were listening to some Mesozoic Era rock n’ roll, cocking an ear as the documented antics of 60s Rock and Pop Stars were threaded behind a Keith Richards guitar riff, quaint by comparison to some of today’s most egregious artists – whose music has made us wonder exactly what has to be said before it is deemed unsuitable.
We mean, have you listened to Eminem or Kanye-Ye-Woozee – whatever we’re supposed to call him now – and their contemporary commentary on life with the Kardashalots or hordes of supplicants applying for inclusion in their worlds?
Which brings us to the theme of today’s screed: Change, and how we humans handle it.
If your existence under that rock you’ve been living under has been really comfortable you may not have noticed that our lives, our politics, our planet is in the midst of monumental change and it may be time to poke your head up and take a look around.
Because with change, as writer/philosopher Santayana (no, not the guitarist) said so correctly: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Well, yeah. As we watch armored columns push across old World War II battlefields to enter freshly liberated cities packed with cheering throngs of townspeople throwing flowers, you realize that Santayana knew his stuff. History repeats, and since it is driven by the peculiarities of human nature, things can get nasty and people can get hurt.
Watching American politics slowly swing about like the Titanic after first sight of the hull-crushing iceberg, we’re left to wonder: “What’s wrong with people? Why didn’t they see this coming?”
Primarily because of that human nature thing we mentioned – it turns out we’re willing to put off continued ruination of the planet in order to hang onto patterns and practices proven to be doing us all harm. So, change – it can be a tough thing to do, even when there’s a great big sword dangling over our pointy little heads.
Often, those who see our future and attempt to sound the alarm are met with contempt and derision, shouted down as charlatans and self-promoters and, yes, we think of Beto O’Rourke standing before the architects of the latest school massacre in Texas as a stage full of narrative-framers and purchased politicos hurl invective and order him escorted out.
Now, we’re not propping up O’Rourke as the answer to all the problems in Texas but things he said seemed to make sense and he did play guitar in a punk band in his younger days and that endeared him to us. In the end, however, Texans took to the polls to course-correct their ship back toward the iceberg and the good ‘ole boys in half boots and Stetsons got their way. Good luck out there, pards.
If we heed Santayana and rely on his saying to guide our public and private policies we should have been able to predict the recent catastrophic failures of Mark Zuckerberg, Elizabeth Holmes, Elon Musk and Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF to his diminishing circle of friends).
Portrayed as visionary captains of industry and finance at the height of their power, these folks drafted their own narratives, used legions of lawyers as cudgels in some cases, and managed to convince any investor who would listen that they alone held the secret to success and steady return of profits.
But, as we should all know by now, history reared its head and proved all of them vulnerable, with failed strategies and models costing them millions if not billions of dollars and raising the prospect of jail time for some. And nothing punctuates a change in your fabled life than the sound of a cell door closing behind you.
In short, being optimists at heart despite bearing scars that might suggest otherwise, we’re hoping beyond hope that humanity comes to its senses and starts effecting the changes we need to make in order to move forward without any more of those aberrant politicians or armored columns we mentioned.
Perhaps a little less time under our chosen rock, and a bit more time spent studying the past and how things went wrong for others might save us all some pain in the future.