A Much Repeated Repetition

“HE MUST have been a man with a very dim and strange mind who said, “History repeats itself.” Of course, there is a grain of veracity in it, but surely the correct way of stating the matter would be, “The Universe repeats itself, with the possible exception of history.” Of all earthly studies history is the one that does not repeat itself. This is the very definition of the divinity of man. Astronomy repeats itself, botany repeats itself; trigonometry repeats itself; mechanics repeats itself; compound long division repeats itself. Every sum if worked out in the same way at any time will bring out the same answer. But it is the peculiarity and fascination of the sum of the sums of history that with the most perfect calculation the sum comes out with a slight mysterious difference every time. There is a certain amount of the divine in every government or society. In most governments and societies it is a very small amount indeed; but there is just enough of it to do the noble and needful work; there is just enough, that is to say, to make that government or society go where it does not want to go, and produce something entirely different from what it had intended.”

~G.K. Chesterton: Daily News, 3/26/04.

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