There is nothing new under the sun.
History repeats itself.
More than a mere cliché statement we see this truth manifested generation after generation. Whether it be in the form of recycled fashion, music, or even politics we are a people who despite our many advancements, are bound to the patterns of our forebears. One does not need a hermeneutic reading of ancient texts to see the similarities with the past or the infinite loop that we seem to be in.
The world has seen many changes and we have theories of an existence spanning over millions of years. However, from prehistoric man to the twenty first century, one thing has always been constant. Man, has always had conflict.
Countless empires have been forged and toppled, both as a result of internal and external forces. These empires have not only been physical as the British and Romans in their glory days but they also include ideologies such as Jim Crow laws in the US, apartheid in South Africa, communism in Eastern Europe (at least in theory) and even democracy in some parts of the western world.
What then, does that mean for us today? With tensions seemingly at boiling point and citizens globally, under different regimes, equally disgruntled with the arbiters of their fate, what then is our lot?
This, in no wise, aims to be another analysis of current events, or even a projection of our future as a global village. This is merely an exposition which looks at our current state comparatively with history. Here, we will see not just that in the words of King Solomon “there is nothing new under the sun” but also that we may find the answers to our struggles and the reasons for our failures in the halls of history.
Whether the fight be against despotic rule, economic depression or human rights abuses, no cause has ever been championed and no wave of change catalysed without an iconic leader. This is an integral part to any successful movement. In his book on the Haitian Revolution, Laurent Dubois quoted The Abbè Raynal’s history of European colonialism which stated,
“All that the negroes lack is a leader courageous enough to carry them to vengeance and carnage. Where is he, this great man that nature owes to its vexed, oppressed, tormented children? Where is he? He will appear, do not doubt. He will show himself and will raise the sacred banner of liberty. This venerable leader will gather around him his comrades in misfortune. More impetuous than torrents, they will leave everywhere ineffaceable traces of their just anger.”
Today, while we do not seek blood, societies the world over, thirst for a man, woman or child, daring as Leonidus himself who would plunge into the raging torrents of oppression and despair with the promise of hope, victory and freedom, to all that follow.
From Mahatma Gandhi to Adolf Hitler, iconic leaders have charted the course for change since time immemorial. Whether he be the devil incarnate, or the very heel that would crush the serpent’s head this figure has always been and will continue to be essential to our existence as a people. For these two men, adversity formed both a tyrant and a glorified pacifist. While it is arguable that the type of adversity contributed to this difference, it is evident that the words of Augustine ring true that, “So material a difference does it make, not what ills are suffered, but what kind of man suffers them.”
What if, we could create this hero ourselves? What if we could form their ideologies and develop the political, military and economic, prowess that we deem necessary and funnel them into one individual? What if as in the film Ender’s Game we could forge the very keys that would undo our shackles? Or, would we, like Tony Stark give birth to our own Ultron, the very manifestation of our fears?
So as we comb through the pages of history, we await this modern day Messiah; whether their ascension be natural or by design, we await, our inevitable salvation.