A Useful Nostrum Against Despair: History and Future

edward-vii-funeral

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

In two days we will have a new President. While his supporters see great things in his Presidency, many others, not just in this country do not. We can try to deduce how President Trump will govern in a number of ways, but the best is through the lens of the past. I am a historian and I am not hopeful of what the future has in store for us, but given that I will not give in to despair. Barbara Tuchman whose books covered many of greatest eras of change and crisis in world history wrote these words:

“The story and study of the past, both recent and distant, will not reveal the future, but it flashes beacon lights along the way and it is a useful nostrum against despair.”

That being said given my study of history and my observations of our soon to be President I am not optimistic. Many people more learned and informed than I have written volumes about what they think will happen in the coming weeks and months. I have read a lot of those analysis and most give me cause for concern. My one hope is that the in spite of his past, including his recent statements, that President Trump will listen to men like soon to be Secretary of defense James Mattis, who alone among our leaders I believe can stand up to Trump’s most unreasonable and problematic actions in regard to NATO, Russia, and China. He actually may be the man who will save the nation from disaster if President Trump makes good on his promises and threats worldwide.

Of course I hope things never reach that point and that some modicum of sanity will possess the President as well as Congress. Likewise I hope that our institutions will be able to survive.

Even so I expect that when President Trump departs the Capital building for the White House that our world will be irrevocably changed. Tuchman wrote of the gathering of leaders at the death of King Edward VII in 1910 in words that I think could easily be modified to 2017 Washington DC.

“The muffled tongue of Big Ben tolled nine by the clock as the cortege left the palace, but on history’s clock it was sunset, and the sun of the old world was setting in a dying blaze of splendor never to be seen again.”

I believe that the world that we knew is never going to be the same. While I have no idea how our future will play out, I still look to the light of the past to keep from despair.

Until tomorrow,

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under History, News and current events, Political Commentary

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