Once upon a time, the completely fictitious civilization of Mount StrathDelGlenHill was at a crossroads. In fact, it was on the verge of collapse. The leader of this small but proud civilization assembled the greatest minds of the age to tackle the civilization’s problems.
“What we need,” said the scientists, “is new discoveries. We need innovation. Let’s dedicate all of our money and resources to new labs and research.”
“No” said the teachers. “We need to change the education system. We need to modernize it to deal with our modern issues.”
The leader nodded, but wondered if Mount StrathDelGlenHill could afford to wait 15 years to see the benefits of a new system embodied in its graduates.
“Wrong!” shouted the generals. “We need to build a new weapon capable of wiping out the enemies at our gates.”
The leader considered this. She wondered if the generals had realized that weapons don’t differentiate; such a powerful weapon would be equally devastating to those on both sides of the gate.
Slowly, an old man stood up, turned around, and walked to the door.
“Sir!” Exclaimed the leader. “Where are you going?”
“Well, Madame President, I am going to study the past.”
This response garnered laughter from the crowd.
One general stood up. “Now is not the time for the past; the salvation or damnation of Mount StrathDelGlenHill lay in the decisions we make about its future!”
The old man stared off in the distance as he collected his thoughts. After a moment, he began to speak.
“Yesterday, I went to the hospital. At first, I was helped by an enthusiastic but misguided medical student who attempted to diagnose my condition as quickly as possible. He examined me, found some symptoms of an illness he recognized, and boldly stated the solution for my pain.
Moments later, the ER doctor entered the room, carrying a folder thicker than a telephone book. He listened grimly as the young doctor described my condition and his solution.
Once the medical student was finished, the doctor turned to me, smiled. “Young student, this man has been alive for 80 years. During these eighty years, he has numerous accidents, illnesses, and pains.” He held out the folder. “Don’t you think you should at least check his history before you begin diagnosing his problems?” The doctor turned to the student. “And just so you know: given our patient’s medical history, the medicine you just proscribed could kill him.”
The room of great minds grew silent.
“Let the scientists innovate, and the generals prepare for the worst.” The old man paused for effect. “I will look at the past.” He put on his hat, and slowly walked to the door.
“After all, the wrong diagnosis can prove fatal.”
Your Task Today
Choose one of the following, and write a 1 paragraph response. Begin your paragraph with the lesson you think we should learn (this will take some thinking on your part). Make sure you add 2 specific historical details from the reading.
- What can we learn about democracy from Pericles? (131-132)
- What can leaders learn from the plague that hit Athens? (133-134)
- What we can learn from Alcibiades’ errors (135)
- What can learn about why societies win wars from the Spartan victory? (135)