“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it” – George Santayana
I would really like to add, “and fail to learn from it”, but I strongly suspect that was Santayana’s point. Which would explain why his observation fits so many people, especially leaders, because they didn’t and still don’t “get it” – “get” that ongoing learning from mistakes was supposed to be built into life.
(The quote seemed like a good way to begin this series of short posts, but in afterthought, it appears to be yet another confirmation of Fundamental Principles that wasn’t in the list that drove these posts in the first place (in this case, Nos. 7 & 8, see below). This, I think, must be yet another confirmation.)
For clarity, flow and neatness, I’ll refer to them as FPs and link them at the end.
We are in a challenging season, again. This time, besides a very stressful and unusual election, we are awaiting the slowly developing outcomes of Brexit (Britain voting to leave the European Union), Russia flexing its muscles in Europe and the Middle East (and in the DNC servers), and in differing subcultural perceptions leading to flare-ups in the US.
Rather than delve too deeply into each of these at this time, I propose merely to reference various developing (or media reported) perspectives of certain events that show confirmations of a number of Fundamental Principles of behavior that appear in various forms as connected threads (the warp and weft) in this blog.
The point in all of these is that we ought to be learning something everyday by observing (and remembering) our own past behaviors and their consequences, whether these be individual, familial, tribal, organizational, subcultural, or national, because of the realities of FPs14k & 16d.
“Britons care more about controlling immigration than keeping access to the European single market, a survey shows today, validating Prime Minister Theresa May’s strategy of prioritizing border controls as she negotiates Brexit.” (Bloomberg Brexit Bulletin, October 25th).
This is the tip of a big iceberg, and most of the iceberg is below the surface.
Part of this is Britain’s unique, residual, sustainable, and rather arrogant but charming-in-a-way cultural view of itself: “Fog Closes Channel. Continent Cut Off” was allegedly a newspaper headline (which apparently it wasn’t) that lives on as “just the sort of story that is invented by an Englishman and told by Englishmen to amuse other Englishmen” (The Times). In other words, this is a very good example of FP16 (the British cultural view of themselves). This is as much the side of culture that defines “Who We Are” as the flip side that defines “Who Is NOT One of Us.” But lest we forget, both sides of that culture coin carry a dollop of arrogance. Some dollops are just bigger and different than others (i.e., France, Britain, Russia, and of course the US).
Another part of the iceberg is fear based on the lack of good information (FP6) about immigrants, why they are coming in and what they can bring (FP2), and therefore fear that they will “take” more than they can “add.” In a struggling economy, a falling tide reveals rocks and shoals that draw attention, whereas in a healthy economy the tide can float all boats. It’s just that a falling tide in a storm is even worse. As with the US, immigrants contribute more than they take and do jobs that typical people wouldn’t consider (and therefore wouldn’t get done). These viewpoints are choosing to look at the situation as a Negative Sum Game (FP4b) rather than finding the Positive Sum Game tactics (FP4c).
The whole developing Brexit situation reflects Culture16a, how people think, express and propagate what they value; the Conservation of Values13, where (cultural) Self has regained top priority; and the Conservation of Behavior14, where a small promotion of Self over other Values drives a much more significant negative change in behavior.
Of course, applying Santayana’s revelation would mean recognizing the reappearance of particular behaviors, recognizing the reappearance of inevitable consequences, and choosing a modified behavioral approach that leads to more positive outcomes. But that would be too challenging. Like moving from “either/or” thinking to “and/and” thinking.
Seeing where this is leading, I think it best to break the rest of these examples up into more bit-sized pieces.
Next: Cold War 2.0
2: Value Added
4b: The Negative Sum Game
4c: The Positive Sum Game
6: Missing Information
7: “Getting” it
8: Learning something new everyday
13: Conservation of Values
14: Conservation of Behavior
14k: Behavioral Continuity (from individual to family to tribe to organization to nation)
16a: Culture & how we think
16d: Cultural Continuity