Have you read the book of Judges in the Bible? It is a book about great leaders with character flaws and their failures we can learn from.
When we fail to learn from our experiences, we are doomed to repeat our mistakes. As the pithy Gore Vidal wrote, “We learn nothing because we remember nothing.” It’s a vicious and deadly cycle of meaningless lessons.
The ancient Israelites in the book of Judges have lost their two great leaders, Moses, and Joshua. Judah was next in line and he led the Israelites against their enemies. After Judah and his generation died, the next generation failed to learn from their parents and grandparents and it wasn’t long before the Israelites were slaves to their own passions and their nemesis, the Moabites and Medianites. Time and again, the Israelites failed to remember the previous generations experiences – those experiences were painful lessons they never fully learned.
I believe our country is in the same cycle as the ancient Israelites we read about in the book of Judges. As a country, we have turned away from God. We have failed to put into practice the knowledge and experiences from previous generations (Vietnam) and are repeating the same tragedy again (Afghanistan). Unfortunately, thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Afghans have paid the ultimate cost for our leaders’ failings.
Because we do not love our neighbors, we have racial strife. Because we pursue power and pleasure, we are in debt beyond what can be repaid (Currently 28 trillion dollars). Because we do not punish the criminal, crime is rampant. Because we idolize celebrities instead of character, we allow vulgar, profanity laced and sexually explicit music, music videos, movies, television shows, and the list goes on. We fail to acknowledge God and we are sinking in a sea of filth. God has indeed turned us over to the torturers and those with depraved minds (Romans 1:28-32).
For this reason, the Holy Spirit inspired the apostle Paul to write, “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
America does not win wars anymore because we fail to learn that “war means fighting and fighting means killing.” In Vietnam we sent our best soldiers and airmen but failed to win because our leaders did not allow the military to win. To Afghanistan we sent our best soldiers and airmen and failed to win because our leaders did not allow the military to win.
To Washington D.C. and into the capital we send those who sounded best on the campaign stump but when they retire or are voted out of office they leave as millionaires, with the best medical coverage, retirement packages and other perks of office, leaving us to pay for their painful meaningless lessons.
In our American culture, we will continue to degrade ourselves and surrender our leadership role in the world because we fail to learn what “was written in earlier times.” Like the Israelites in the book of Judges, America will continue to endure painful experiences, “we learn nothing because we remember nothing.”