Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
The spouse likes to watch the History Channel. Around our house it's called the Hitler channel because every other program is a documentary about the second world war. On a lazy Sunday afternoon we found ourselves watching yet another documentary, The Third Reich: The Fall. The program told the story of the the fall of the Third Reich through home movies taken by Germans both civilians and soldiers.
At the start of the program there were warnings about graphic images, but the beginning of the documentary focused on the lives of civilian Germans. There were home movies of families on holiday and children's birthdays interspersed with footage taken by German occupation soldiers in Paris. Beautiful, smiling families watched toddlers take their first steps and Nazi troops looked like tourists at the Eiffel Tower. In the early part of the war life in Germany was little changed. There were no shortages of food or goods and the population enjoyed prosperity fueled by the profits of war from neighboring countries. Both the German civilians and the military were unaware of the death, destruction, and misery that lay ahead.
It was at this point in the documentary that I remembered the quotation about the lessons of the past. I wondered if we are at that same point in our history. We enjoy the highest standard of living in the world. We want for nothing. Yes, we'd all like to earn more money and pay less taxes, but most of us do not go to bed hungry. We are safe and our children are educated. Yet, we are fighting wars on three fronts. We are at war, but our everyday life in unchanged. Most of us are untouched by the current military actions. Most of us do not have an immediate family member in the military. We have rained death and destruction on three fronts, but our lives are unaffected.
I was unnerved by the parallels of history. How many of us have home videos of toddlers taking their first steps? I bet our soldiers home on leave are taking videos at amusement parks. I wonder if we are blind to the consequences of war because we have not learned from the past.
I voted for Obama in part because of his anti-war stance. Three years later the war has expanded. When will we ever learn?