"Only a fool learns from his own mistakes", said Otto von Bismarck, a conservative German statesman and diplomat. "The wise man learns from the mistakes of others." But, unfortunately, most people in the world not only fail to learn from others' mistakes, but even their own mistakes can't teach them any lessons. As a result, they keep repeating the same mistakes and suffer the consequence of their repeated mistakes.
It is human to error. However, learning from our mistakes makes us wiser and better decision-makers as we don't repeat the same mistakes. However, as a German philosopher, G. W. F. Hegel rightly pointed out, "What experience and history teach is this—that nations and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted upon any lessons they might have drawn from it". A close analysis of the event in the modern world clearly indicates that humankind has not learned from the mistakes of the past.
Today, we find that there is so much social unrest worldwide. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are full of hate messages and even a call for violence against people. Today, Indian politics revolves around caste and religion that have divided India for thousands of years. We know from our history that due to the deep division within our society, a handful of foreign invaders defeated the Indian kings and ruled India for hundreds of years.
In 1947, after India got independence from British rule, we hoped that Indians would learn their mistakes and treat everyone fairly. It was also expected that Indian leadership would not divide the people based on caste, religion, or region. However, India has been deeply divided even today as before. Indians have always alleged that the Britishers used the policy of 'divide and rule'. However, even modern politicians follow the same policy of divide and rule to remain in power. Aldous Huxley rightly concluded, "That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history."
It is true that in every society there are good people and bad people. The evil people think only about their benefits and seek self-gratification using all types of means without caring about the world. However, good people work for society and live a life of righteousness. To create a better society, the good people must come together and fight the evil forces. Unfortunately, history teaches us that when good people fail to come together, society suffers the rule of the wicked. Martin Luther King, Jr., warned us long back, "History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamour of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people". Yet the reality is that even today, the good people are not coming forward to correct the wrongs of the wicked people, who are becoming more powerful with every passing day.
One important lesson of history is that hatred sells more than love. In Germany, Adolf Hitler became the most popular leader by invoking hatred against the Jews and the other European races. He came to power and founded the Third Reich, which he claimed to last for a thousand years. His government put millions of Jews, including women and children, in the centration camps and gassed them to death. Hitler started the Second World War, which led to the death of millions of people worldwide and caused vast destruction of property.
Ideally, the world should have learned suitable lessons from history about the consequences of spreading hatred in society. However, today, we see the same type of hatred perpetrated by leaders worldwide to divide people. In India, caste and religion has taken centre stage in politics though India is a secular nation according to its Consitution. The politicians are leaving no stone unturned to spread hatred against the communities. Instead of respecting the diversity of opinion and giving equal respect to all people, the majoritarian is ruling India today. Today, once again the communal thinking is dividing society and creating unrest. If these trends are not stopped today, history will repeat itself, and we have to pay a heavy price for it.
History is also repeating in respect of the civil services, who are considered the backbone of Indian governance. For a country to develop rapidly, the civil servants must work efficiently, impartially and professionally. However, during the time of Indira Gandhi, the concept of committed bureaucracy became popular, and the politicians used civil servants as pawns to serve their political agenda. The result was poor governance and a national emergency that eclipsed the existence of democracy itself. The subsequent governments allowed the civil servants to work professionally, and the nation saw unprecedented growth. However, in recent years, civil servants are again used to target political opponents. As a result, the credibility of the government agencies like CBI, police Enforcement Directorate and Tax departments have taken a beating. These agencies are gradually losing credibility due to their partisan behaviour that can cause great tragedy in future.
Karl Marx, therefore, warned humanity, "History repeats itself, first as a tragedy, second as a farce". Unless we learn our lessons intelligently, the tragedies will be repeated. If we fail to learn from history, we make a mockery of history. We should learn our lessons from history and avoid the tragedies that follow due to the blunders committed by the leaders. The responsibility for the course correction lies not only on the leaders but on the people. Fortunately, most of today's world is democratic, and the people elect their government. Let the world's citizens learn the bitter lessons from history and don't elect the politicians in power who spread hatred among their fellow countrymen and divide the society. When people elect honest, efficient and competent people into power, these leaders shall not commit past mistakes and create a better world for us and our future generation.
The Spanish philosopher George Santayana once said, "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it". So let us learn our lessons from history and pledge not to repeat our mistakes in the future. If we can do that, we can avoid the tragedies of history and reap the dividend of peace, love and happiness.