Once Upon a Time there was a Void, a World, and the Rest is History

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“Victims of War” acrylic on canvas

I’ve heard it asked many times. “Where were you on 9/11?” And the question elicits the same feelings of shock and fear that I felt on that first day. One son was scheduled for a meeting on the eighth floor of the first tower of the World Trade Center; the other lived across town in Manhattan. He taught fifth grade in a public school while completing his MBA. He could be anywhere; taking a taxi across town, riding the train or subway, taking a group of children to a museum. I never knew for sure. The events of that day will be forever emblazoned on my memory.

Where were you 10 or 15 years ago? Where were your parents? What was going on in your part of the world? History makes us who we are and helps us to remember important moments that have the capacity to change our lives forever. We can learn the lessons these events may teach us or we can ignore them at our own peril.

When we ignore the mistakes or tragedies of the past, we are doomed to repeat them. If we keep doing the same things over and over again, we will never be free. Ingrained habits will cause us to repeat our defeats and bad choices. The good things that may have helped guide us are forsaken and forgotten. Instead of gaining knowledge and wisdom, we end up throwing the benefits of hindsight out with our stubborn refusal to understand the ramifications of our choices.

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“Prayer Circles” acrylic on canvas

History has not only been modified and changed it is currently being deleted, swapped out and altered. The pursuit of truth must come from many sources and from searching out facts, information, diaries, and articles from unlikely places. The truth seeker must be willing to set aside bias, skepticism and fear. An open mind and the power of discernment will unlock the secrets of the past and help you recognize the difference between truth and falsehood; unbiased fact from fictional hogwash.

The lives of other people, no matter when they lived or how is never boring. Power struggles, jaded values, twisted thinking, lack of character and a thirst for money are the same today as they were long ago. By learning from your own mistakes and from those of others, you just might save the next generation from the same follies and degradation. Drunken Nero fiddled while Rome burned. John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln in plain sight because people ignored the soft-spoken rumble going on around them.

The Fort Hood terrorist was able to injure and kill many people because of authoritarian refusal to recognize him as an enemy combatant simply because he was dressed in a U.S. Army uniform. All the signs were there in his record. He walked like a duck (Jihadist), talked like a duck and acted on his beliefs. Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, he deceived them. They were blindsided by his uniform and ignored the warnings.

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“An Open Book” mixed media on canvas

History is like reading a favorite story, over and over again. You know how it’s going to end. The past is no different. Recorded documents and text books tell you how the story ends. You know what the characters should do, but they act in direct opposition. You wish you could warn people of the danger ahead; but you can’t, even though you know what’s going to happen.

The only way you can stop history from repeating itself is to do something different. You may not have the power to protect the world, but you can change your own life.

History was altered the day my son headed out for the first tower of the World Trade Center. He received a text message that day regarding a change in venue. He traveled across town and this changed the course of his life forever. Many others had their plans changed unexpectedly that day and some didn’t. Over 3,000 people’s lives were ended by a savage and brutal terrorist attack which changed forever our complacency and our freedoms.

You cannot learn the lessons of history by osmosis. You must ferret out the information, struggle to understand both sides, and then analyze the end result; the ripples that reverberate throughout time.

How does this knowledge affect your life today? Will you follow the mobs of passion or will you think and act for yourself? Are you willing to stand up for truth and right? Have you learned to recognize hearsay from fact?  Can you defend your point of view? Can you make a difference or will history repeat itself?

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