“What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time“
I believe that we are living at a moment in time where the world is a very uncertain and anxious place. The global competition between the existing world power (US) and a rising world power (China), regional tensions in different parts of the world, large wealth gaps and political divisions within countries have lead to increased social and political conflicts. It usually takes minor errors of judgement to ultimately lead to widespread conflict and another world war. This was very concerning to me. The times ahead will be radically different from the times we have experienced so far in our lifetimes, though similar to many other times in history.
“History might not repeat itself but it has a rhythm”. That quote is often attributed to the great American writer Mark Twain, but its sentiment speaks to us through the ages. If we look back at the history, before both world wars, it was clear that there was escalation which lead to miscalculation which led to war. I am on a mission to understand the current situation in more details and use history to predict what will happen the future. I want to know the probability of the third world war occurring and if so when would it likely to occur.
We use our past experience and understanding of how things worked in the past to help us navigate and deal with current and future situations.
For example, many parents use their past experience being parented to teach their children and being a parent themselves. From time to time, reflecting on the past can shed light on the present. If the growing-up years were pleasant, there is a strong tendency to employ training techniques similar to those by which they were raised. If their childhood and teen years were stressful, the tendency is to swing to the opposite extreme of their parent’s parenting methods when rearing their own children.
Another example is weather forecasts. Weather forecasts are made based on the assumption that a system’s past would dictate its future behaviour. Data such as atmospheric pressure, temperature, wind speed, wind direction, humidity, precipitation are collected routinely from trained observers, automatic weather stations, satellites, weather balloons, aircraft and ocean buoys and entered into supercomputers. During the data assimilation process, information gained from the observations is used in conjunction with an understanding of atmospheric processes to produce the meteorological analysis, Today’s weather forecasts are created by inputting current conditions— which they call the “nowcast” — into computer models. The computer would then search and compare current conditions with the historical data in the past and predict what will happen in the next few days or, for some models, hours.
Seeing events from the historical point of view helped shift our perspective from being caught in the blizzard of things coming at us to stepping above them to see their patterns through time. The reason people typically miss the big moments of evolution coming at them in life is that we each experience only tiny pieces of what’s happening. We are like ants preoccupied with our jobs of carrying crumbs in our minuscule lifetimes instead of having a broader perspective of the big-picture patterns and cycles, the important interrelated things driving them, and where we are within the cycles and what’s likely to transpire.
I recognize that what I don’t know is much greater than what I know. I am not a great historian either. I’m just someone with a desire to understand the situation we are in and compare it with what had happened in the past. So, whenever I provide you with what I think please realize that I’m just doing the best I can to openly convey to you my thinking. I humbly welcome both corrections and confirmations from historians, scholars, practitioners and policy makers, who each had in-depth perspectives on some of the issues they are familiar with.
I try not to be ideological either. So, in telling you my opinions I will try to convey them without bias. I believe that to accurately understand both history and what is happening now, I need to see things through the relevant parties’ eyes, including those with the opposite views. If you hear me say things that sound sympathetic please know that it is because I am seeking accuracy and need to be truthful rather than politically correct in conveying my thinking. While I might be wrong and we might not agree, that’s all OK with me.
Over the next few weeks, months and years, I am planning to share my thought and opinions with you to take or leave as you like and to have you point out any inaccuracies you think might exist as we try to figure out together what’s true and what to do about it. It is incomplete, it is right and wrong in ways yet to be discovered, and it is provided to you to use or to criticize in the spirit of helping us together find out what’s true.
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