“People spend too much time on the last 24 hours and not enough time on the last 6,000 years.” – Will Durant
This is a few short stories about things that never change in a world that never stops changing.
Things that never change are the most important things to pay attention to. Change gets most of the attention, because it’s exciting and surprising.
But things that stay the same – how people behave, how they think, how they’re persuaded – is the real meat of history.
Voltaire’s quote that “History never repeats itself, but man always does,” sums it up.
Predicting the future is hard. Few can do it.
Understanding what’s going through people’s heads is easier, and almost as useful.
The world in 2020 looks nothing like the world of 1920, which was a different universe compared to 1920 BC.
But how people’s heads work hasn’t changed. How they think about fear, greed, opportunity, scarcity, and tribal affiliations hasn’t changed. It won’t change in our lifetimes.
If, rather than trying to predict the future, you put all your weight into the handful of behaviors that show up constantly in history and played a role in all the big moments, you get about as close as you can come to seeing the future.
You still have no idea what’s going to happen in the future.
But you become less surprised at whatever does happen, less confused about why it’s happening, and more confident about how people will react to it.
There are dozens of these behaviors worth paying attention to. I want to talk about four.
The first is a story about nuclear bombs.
*Featured post photo by Harlie Raethel on Unsplash