But it may hurt.
The supposed symbol of the Knights Templar, preserved by the Order of Freemasons, among others. Western culture has played policeman of the world for almost seven hundred years. How is that working out? The Latin motto quoting Constantine translates: "In this sign (the X or cross) conquer." A similar design is engraved on my great-great uncle's tombstone. These struggles may have been well-intended, but Christ never intended a shooting war.
History is not just a pile of confusing data. It is the heart monitor for the human race. When people disregard history, any history, they are showing carelessness for their own survival. If you want to be smart, study math or science. But if you want wisdom, study history.
It is no accident, that the Holy Scriptures are not math equations or science formulas. They are not about art or music or games. They are mostly concerned with history. So much so, there are cycles discernible within the Scriptures which show the basic truth that history, or the lessons of history, repeat themselves. The major point of the Old Testament is that in thousands of years, after many generations, neither God nor men changed at all.
To be ignorant of these things is to invite the same calamity that visited upon the people of Israel, God's chosen pilot project, several times, each time with worse results. The people of Israel seemed to really detest history, and found it extraneous. Eventually God would find them extraneous. First it was the enslavement in Egypt, then freedom and power until the tribes were swallowed up by the Assyrians and then the Jews were crushed and relocated by the Babylonians. They got one more chance, until they self-destructed and the Romans captured Jerusalem like a wounded bird. Each time they had a warning from prophets, and the LESSONS OF HISTORY. It made no difference. Today our own country is in a similar mode. We cannot be bothered by that old stuff.
So thank goodness, no thank God that he had plan B.
The New Testament is even more history, but with a twist. Now God was offering a new plan, based on our chronic neglect of history. The Gospel was simple, just believe that Jesus knows the history, and knows your heart, and is STILL willing to pay the price for them. With his own blood. No more altar and fatted-calf and infinite laws for unsustainable righteousness. Just know the last additions in God's Revelation, and you will be fine, although the Old Testament is still an insightful diagram of society and an accurate picture of man's hard heart and thus his hopelessness. And that is a useful bit of history.
With that as an introduction, the rest of history is just same song, umpteenth verse. But still it is useful because in some cases it teaches us about our particular culture... It is good for young Germans or Chinese to learn about the history of their countries... and especially Americans, so that they might know our failures and not repeat the same stupid injustices and miscalculations of our fathers. We need to remind one another, educate our children, that we were morons and should be held accountable for what we have perpetuated. History might even cause us to mitigate our actions in the process of making it. If we knew it.
I'm sure President Bush II was not a very astute student of history, or he would have known that we tried to take the Middle East by force in the Middle Ages and found a resolute, treacherous society unwilling to even conceive of the teachings of Jesus; Mercy, God's Grace, forgiveness or loving one's enemy. Freedom, Human rights and Self-Government were out of the question in these societies. It turns out they had already been conquered by people even meaner and even more stubborn... And they found the perfect way to perpetuate their society... total intolerance. A costly, bloody, futile war was waged for centuries.
We barely evicted them from Spain. It was arrogant (recently) to think we could reform or rebuild such a country as Iraq, whose people said no to Christ and the Gospels when they converted to Islam at the point of a sword some fifteen or sixteen hundred years ago. Anybody that wanted something different left centuries ago. They are the desert sidewinders of the human race. A desert sidewinder is one of God's creatures. But he is also a cunning, poisonous survivor in a hostile environment. Some of his distant cousins are grass snakes... and he would eat them in a heartbeat. It would be senseless and suicidal for grass snakes to try to reform them.
The only time rebuilding or reforming has ever worked for us (ONCE?) was when we first bombed our feisty enemies into oblivion, as we did to Japan... A lesson in history. Nobody wants to ever do that again. Our meddling in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan have only proved that nothing less than total humiliation will inspire the kind of submission that might produce a lasting rebuild. And we lack that kind of resolve. We keep trying, in that classic definition of insanity... expecting a different result.
Whether it be Mexico, Spain or the Comanche Nation, surgical whooping-tail has never resulted in anything but hate and contempt between both parties. Show me one truly devoted ally among our rebuilds. In fact our most devoted, USEFUL allies are... our former kinsmen, of the "Western world."
And total annihilation is out of the question, since we base our society on those dimming premises found in... the Bible, full of those confounded lessons in history. No, Jesus intended the opposite of the Islamic technique, regardless of what we have done in his name. We were to love our enemies, carry their burdens, turn the other cheek... he forbade his men to use weapons to defend him... he hung on the cross instead... and they followed his lead to man. But he never suggested suicide... "be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves."
Somewhere, some time, some place where I was not in attendance, somebody, some group must have agreed that since we have it so good here in this God-fearing country, we were supposed to share/force our wealth and wisdom, whether the poor, hateful peoples of the earth wanted us to or not. This led to no small amount of saber rattling and intrigue... for National Security of course, and eventually, regardless of our benevolent intentions, we have been perceived as a decadent, boorish bully. All over the world. And some of that is not far off of the mark. Another lesson of history. Even countries like France and Italy easily forget what we have sacrificed for them, I'm talking tens of thousands of American lives, to preserve their freedom. And they are supposedly from our “culture.” What could we ever expect from Iraqis?
The lessons of history are many... but since you will not read them, here are some of my favorites.
George Washington was not kidding when he warned of foreign entanglements. “Father” knew best. We of course promptly ignored him. Like Moses... Jesus...
Lincoln learned the hard way that you cannot force men (of the South), even God fearing ones, to abandon their way of life, no matter how egregious, without a terrible fight. Yes he “freed the slaves,” only to leave them freed into a heartless society which persecuted them for ANOTHER ONE HUNDRED YEARS.
Mohamed was the only world leader who ever knew how to truly change minds- quickly and permanently. We lack the resolve for his methods as well. Today ISIS demonstrates how effective... and inhuman they are.
But what makes America a very special place in human history, is we may be the only country that had a bloody, deadly civil war, who made peace and sent our enemies back home to their farms. No imprisonments, no mass executions. That is who we are. That is not who they are. That is an important lesson in history.
But we failed to even read or remember our own mail...
Lincoln's favorite generals, who did his bidding to save the Union, and “freedom for all,” turned around and exterminated or subdued the Native Americans using trickery, starvation and genocide (true it was "tit for tat"). The remnants of the Comanche, Kiowa, Sioux, Cheyenne and Apache people today are evidence of our LACK of proficiency at rebuilding and redirecting cultures. They graciously testify it has been a painfully mixed bag of ill-conceived policies.
The lessons of history demand that we Americans learn to mind our own business. Our best message to the world is to be the best in the world. The best provider, the best neighbor, the best ally, the best trade partner. We need to have a strong military... but only to protect ourselves and our land, and woe to anyone who threatens either. Although China made many mistakes she learned this lesson of history hundreds or thousands of years ago. Meanwhile, next door Russia has bankrupted itself repeatedly for its foreign entanglements. In turn they have been the worst provider, the worst neighbor, the worst ally and the worst trade partner. I guess that is why we are selling them all of our uranium. We are not afraid to give them a handicap or head start and hold one hand behind our backs...
As all of the sane people all over the planet rush here for refuge, and our enemies sharpen their swords, it is time to learn the ultimate lesson of history, that no great “empire” such as ours ever stood strong forever as they over-extended themselves in a world rife with violence and treachery. Persia, Greece, Rome, Spain, Great Britain, none could hold what they grabbed out of greed or ambition or benevolence. Most of these places are comic shadows of their former selves. They did not know when to quit, and eventually an unsympathetic world slapped back. And our all-powerful God allowed that.
During WWII, when the forces of evil conspired to finally wipe out the Jewish people, once and for all, God allowed us and our allies to intervene... with unimaginable forces never seen before... to SAVE THE JEWS and end the conflict. We can only surmise that in this case, maybe the last time it ever happened, it was a case of "Just War." It is a cruel reality, that ruthless, intolerant societies and cultures who writhe in constant genocide and treachery are not our concern, and that is the kind of conflicts we constantly get sucked into. But to his credit, not under President Obama.
President Obama may have had the moral high ground, thus the right policy, but if this was his belief, he should have brought ALL of our military and ambassadors and EVERYBODY HOME. Instead it was a half-ass attempt to disengage... with terrible results. He tried to play footsie with the sidewinders and our people perished in his inexperience. He actually tried to demonstrate an old adage.. that love begets love, respect begets respect... Objectivity is better than playing favorites. But he made the same mistake that Bush II made, to try to overlay our Christian cultural assumptions upon a unregenerate society.
Perhaps this is the thinking behind the current foreign policy that drives many Americans crazy. Still, the frustrating reality is we have got to"save our bullets" and "pick our battles" very cold-bloodedly... or else find ourselves like Napoleon... broke and defenseless... we are already, in spite of the president's naive overtures, nearly friendless. And regardless of the president's ill-regard for Israel, The God of Judaism and Christianity made certain promises to His people, and he will keep them, in spite of our or our leader's failures. But he will not protect us from ourselves. And that, for us, is the next lesson in history.