John Andrist: History Is a Great Teacher

I’ve always been fascinated by museums. They are a great place to learn.

Museums, at least for me, are the best way to look back and think about where we all began.

It was likely in a museum where I learned the earliest of us earthlings never worried about space. There was all kinds of it. We simply wandered and gathered.

We were a people of nomads, who never felt a need to live in or mark a specific place. Ownership developed in much of the world long before it did in our world, and they were simply running out of space.

But about five centuries ago these crowded people discovered this part of the world we now think of as “our” place. They didn’t want to invade our shores. It had simply become an economic necessity to find new space.

Many of them came, of course, to escape tyranny .  .  . tyranny imposed by a king or the church or whoever was in control. But for whatever reason they decided they needed a new space of their own.

When they got here they were seeking that place within their new place. They were bound to have some conflict with the existing society of roamers.

But they had the tools to win the skirmishes that occurred. So they just kept coming, pushing the natives farther and farther from our gateway on the eastern shore.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]The reservation system hasn’t brought strength and happiness to anyone, especially to those within.[/mks_pullquote]

When Tom Jefferson executed the Louisiana purchase, they tell us, he believed it was more space than we would ever need.

He was wrong, of course, probably because he grossly underestimated our ability to exponentially reproduce.

In the last century world population has grown nearly five-fold, from less than 2 billion to more than 8 billion.

In the next century will we grow by another 6 billion? Or will we grow five-fold, which would make 40 billion of us looking for space 100 years from now?

Whatever the number, we can be certain that there will be far more conflict than we can possibly imagine.

We will have to find a way to survive on less space to produce the food and fiber we will need.

To solve the conflict of our quest for space we first developed our system of land and property ownership. And ultimately we decided to find space for those whose families were roamers, which we called reservations.

Good idea? Not in my view. The reservation system has failed miserably and simply is not sustainable. Try as we will, it must someday fail.

There simply is not room to maintain an essentially nomadic culture, nor to establish islands of sovereignty.

The reservation system hasn’t brought strength and happiness to anyone, especially to those within.

In a sense that is what we are facing in the present wave of immigration, which many mostly resent, because the newbies don’t share our traditional European culture and value system like our grandpas and grandmas did.

We will probably keep trying to find ways to control it, but we will mostly fail, just like the Hillarys and Trumps want to isolate us from world competitive forces.

Some changes are dictated by necessity. So too we will fail to prevent needed infrastructure like pipelines from crossing rivers. And we will fail in our hope to decarbonize our world and prevent climate changes, which seem to have been created by our growth in numbers and lifestyle.

It doesn’t mean they are all bad ideas. It’s just that a lot of good ideas just can’t work.

It is in our genes to find what we need at a cost we can afford.

Well, this is a pretty long diatribe of philosophy, but it can be boiled down pretty easily by saying we need to recognize which of those things we will be able to protect and preserve, and which of them are just buying more time.

And to better accept the reality that there is nothing that can guarantee the things we covet. The good old days are gone, and probably really never were as good as we remember them.

Nothing we have has ever been safe from those who think they need it.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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