Can We Learn From the Past? – Tsunami Stones

Last Sunday, Rev. Nate Nix was giving a lesson about paying attention to the signs around us and learning both from our elders and from past experience. I have a love-hate relationship with experts and authority (we tend to over-rely on them and ignore our own experiences and wisdom), but an even more healthy skepticism that “newer is better”. Humans have been through a lot. To ignore all of that accumulated wisdom and experience is just plain dumb.

The point he made about tsunami stones is that they were easy for contemporary Japanese to ignore. Which they did, raising buildings well below the danger zone the stones indicated. And they found themselves shocked and devastated when their homes and buildings were destroyed by high walls of water.

It’s easy for us to ignore warnings about things that we haven’t experienced. Especially things that happened hundreds or thousands of years ago. But “it hasn’t happened recently” isn’t the same as “it won’t happen again.”

As individuals, our life spans are short blips in human history. We need to at least give a listen to those who came before. To blindly ignore advice is just as bad as blindly accepting it.

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