Monday, July 5, 2010

Why doesn't hindsight really benefit us?

It's July 5, 2010, I'm trying to stay cool on this hot summer day and I'm listening to Charlie Rose on PBS. He's discussing the state of the economy in the world with Thomas L. Friedman, an economist, and the statement that "we don't seem to learn from the mistakes of our grandfathers" is spoken by Mr. Friedman and it gets me thinking about that thought in particular. Why doesn't hindsight really benefit us? Why is the expression hindsight is 20/20 just that, an expression? I don't think I have the answer but I'd love for people to help figure this one out. It would sure increase everyone's standard of living and offer peacefulness if we weren't fighting wars that we can't afford, in more ways than one, all the time.

It does seem that we, as humans, can't seem to admit we're wrong or that we're making the same mistakes our fathers or grandfathers have made until we have the benefit of hindsight. And even with that benefit of hindsight we still repeat the same mistakes in future generations. Why is that? Why can't we learn from these mistakes? What is it all about Alfie?

I know I suffer from this on occasion, just like everyone else, but now I try very hard to not fall into this pattern and over the years I've done better and better. I know that I take more time to think about decisions before actually making them. I actually weigh the pros and cons. When I was younger I pretty much went with my gut instinct and although I have survived and thrived for the most part, some of those decisions were so wrong that when I look back on them now I wonder "what was I thinking?" and the obvious answer is I wasn't thinking at all, I was reacting. Reacting to what? Reacting to what I thought was going to be a lost opportunity or what I thought was going to be a good opportunity but what actually turned out to be bad opportunity or dead end. And yet if I had children (which I don't) they would be doomed to repeat many of the same mistakes I made and for the same reasons which wouldn't become apparent, yet again until some time passed. There's that hindsight again.

You notice the animal kingdom doesn't have this problem or do they? They do repeat patterns over and over again and maybe this is what's happening to us, a pattern that we're doomed to repeat over and over again. Birds migrate back and forth to the same spots even if their lives will be in danger. The same is true with a lot of other animals that are very territorial.

It would be very disappointing to think that with our supposed increased level of brain function and advanced ability to reason that we are still reduced to repeating the same self-defeating patterns of the animal kingdom. I would hope that we as humans could have evolved beyond that much, don't you think so?

Well I'd love to hear your thought.