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Knowing the Past to Understand the Present and Plan for the Future

Sometimes we miss out on that simple thing we call the “Past”, in fact I’ve realised many don’t even give it any attention neither feel like its important to know about it…we’re all so obsessed with whats going on now and what next?

What we don’t realize is that it holds so much information, so much wisdom and so much experiences that we can not ever accumulate in our life time. Yet, knowing all that, many don’t dig enough into it…and I’m not talking here in terms of one’s own past, but rather the past of a whole country, nation, and civilization in general.

Go back to the history books and you will realize that human civilisation is a “de-ja vu” happening over and over again. Different times, different places, different people…same story with a small twist. It gets me wondering sometimes, if those people actually read, understood and analysed what happened in the past, would they change or would they still have done what they previously planned to do?

Wouldn’t it be much more useful if when I’m facing any issue in my life (whether career or personal or political or national or …) I do know what happened in the past in such cases and decided accordingly? Rather than just contemplating in the way I feel and like and what people around me say and all those unknowns?

Infact aside from this simple example, think of where we stand today…in the present…and you’ll realise it is simply the accumulation of events, plans and decisions done in the past…and so to really understand where we are in life…it is crucial to actually know what our predecessors did and why.

Taking it a step further(hypothetically), now that we thought and reflected on the past and got a better understanding of the present (hopefully that is) it is much easier to see the big picture and many of the underlying details of the previously foggy future. At least now we understand better were we stand in this world, how are others related to us and how do we relate to the overall progress of civilisation and where might it all probably lead next.

I can sit here, contemplate and right for hours…but I do not want to bore you but rather instigate you to ponder and give me your feedback…

In the end I’ll leave you with this quote/drawing….

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  1. Mohamad
    July 23, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    Nice article. Keep writing 🙂

  2. July 24, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    Hi Afif
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I cannot but agree more about the importance in the past for understanding the present. However, I think that we don’t – or very little … – learn from the experience of other human beings ist that we want, as individuals, to have our own. If we consider something in the perspective of the past, and this perspective tells us “don’t do it, it was wrong”, we will understand this cognitively, but it won’t be our experience…We won’t really experience whether it is wrong or not…
    Yes, unfortunately we are constantly looking forward and living very fast. I think it is important to sometimes stop and ponder. Thank God there are still philosophers and slow food!
    Best
    Zeina

    • July 29, 2010 at 7:02 am

      Hi Zeina

      These days there is much focus on ones own experience.Which I do appreciate;I experience,therefore I live.
      But the way I look at it from the prospective that Afif’s subject matter,is the following;I have a purpose in life and I am willing to use all methods known to man to get there.This might include working hard to working smart.But also includes doing that which was proven to work and stearing away from that which proved not to.”Doing it my way”,has no relevance here.
      And one more’Those that fail to learn from history,are doomed to repeat it.”Winston Churchil.

      Best of life to you and Afif.

      Ted

  3. July 25, 2010 at 10:17 am

    Afif!!
    You have a point here about learning from the past. History is important and will remain an integral part of our education. On the other hand as coaches we consider the past done with. We reflect and learn the lesson but what was is more important is living the moment through our own experiences. Many things change with time and what applied in the past may not apply today. We must evolve, expand, open up to new ways and ideas in order to find new solutions to our daily problems and obstacles. We must not remain stuck in the past and its glories or disappointments. We need not worry much about the future also but let the mystery unfold slowly and enjoy living. There are no mistakes really but great lessons without which we can never evolve.
    To the enlightenment of humanity!!
    Grace

  4. Lina
    July 25, 2010 at 11:50 pm

    Maybe it is about acknowldeging the wisdom of the cause and effect of our actions.

    Lina

  5. July 29, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    Afif,I believe the past is a detour we take from our life’s path in order to explore other people,things,concepts etc,& while we make many mistakes in this ‘exploration’ of ours, we come out with valuable lessons for the present & our future.I believe that our karmic actions shape our future, a eulogy found in the proverb ‘what you sow, you shall reap’.I’d much rather choose to create a beautiful today for myself and the world around me than contemplate upon a future that hasn’t yet come, because I’d lose out on my ‘present’ in doing so.History repeats itself because mankind hasn’t learnt its lessons well.We can surely look forward to a future, different from what the past has been, if we focus our passion & commitment towards freeing ourselves from the shackles of selfishness, pride & ego & renewing our collective conciousness to shape a better world.

  6. Timothy Brown
    July 29, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    Dear Afif,

    You are a rare person to take time to think and write about such a fundamental question as the importance of learning from history. I couldn’t agree with you more. There is no question that the past informs the present. Indeed the past has huge implications on the present in both conscious and unconscious ways. All important human activity emerges in the context of specific past events and is shaped by them. Therefore, I would add to your observations that it is not only important to study history, but to do so in a dispassionate and even empathetic way that tries to make sense of all sides and historical interpretations not just conventional wisdom written by the self identified “winners.” Since history is by definition interpreted, we need to break through our inherent bias to hopefully understand and even internalize the legitimate reasons people feel the way they do. Far too few even consider history beyond the stories passed down over generations by ancestors and like-minded members of their society. Those individuals who have the capacity to break out of the mold of conventional wisdom and truly think outside the box are rare indeed.

    Thanks for your note, it certainly made me pause to think about the issue. Best, Tim

  7. Marwan
    September 7, 2010 at 1:11 am

    hmmm
    that sounds similar to what economists do for life and make good money out of it:)

    i dont believe the past hold much,it is rather the predicatable behaviour of human nature that makes the difference

    as a matter of fact the “de-ja-vu”s are the proof how not-functional learning from the past is, a fear to explore new forms of everything, and that the future is not rooted in the past and a very relaxing space for tha lazy minds to adhere and accept

    look around you Afif, and you will realize that the real problem is the multitude of people living in the “past”

  8. October 22, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Howdy! This article could not be written
    any better! Reading through this article reminds me of my
    previous roommate! He constantly kept talking about this.
    I most certainly will forward this article to him.
    Fairly certain he’s going to have a very good read. Thanks for sharing!

  9. September 26, 2014 at 11:36 am

    We absolutely love your blog and find almost all of your post’s to be what precisely
    I’m looking for. Do you offer guest writers to write content to suit your needs?
    I wouldn’t mind creating a post or elaborating on a few of
    the subjects you write concerning here. Again, awesome blog!

    • September 26, 2014 at 11:45 am

      Hello,

      I’m glad you like the blog. I sure do offer a place for guest writers, so let me know what you have in mind and we can discuss this further.

      Looking forward for your feedback,

      Afif

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