There Is Nothing New

Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

This verse is telling us that history repeats itself, but I believe that it takes a certain amount of history (i.e., age and experience) for each of us before we can really believe this.  I’ve seen this principal in our social arena, as well as in economics and politics.

I remember the tumultuous decade of the 1960s, when so many people (especially our youth) were rebelling in so many different ways.  I watched as people fought for civil rights, and as the sexual revolution unfolded.  Many of the things I saw seemed unprecedented at the time.  However, as I subsequently learned more about history, I realized that history was simply repeating itself, sometimes from when our nation was younger, and sometimes from other societies many centuries ago.

When the stock market turned down in the year 2000, many analysts warned of a coming depression.  At the time, most analysts (and traders) were relatively young, due to the rapid growth of Wall Street during recent years.  However, some of us could remember the “crash” of 1987.  Although the market lost 20% of its (over-inflated) value in one day, what followed was the huge bull market of the 1990s.  By the time of the downturn in 2000, this bull market was the only market that most traders had known.  However, to those with more experience, this pull pack was a reasonable expectation after such a run up.  Once a person has lived through both bull and bear (and stagnant) markets, then he begins to see the bigger picture.  Likewise, those with more experience were less rattled by the next downturn in 2008.

As a result of my personal experiences, I have come to learn that we should be careful with our use of the word, “unprecedented.”  Many times something seems unprecedented to us only because of our limited knowledge.  After a little more experience, aging, and education in history, we see that there was some precedent for what we were seeing after all.

The economic situation in 2008 resulted in major changes in the political world.  Democrats blamed the “unprecedented” economic downturn on the previous Republican administration, and we witnessed a Democratic sweep in the 2008 elections, including both the presidency and the Congress.  Then, only one year later, the Republicans are citing “unprecedented” spending and low approval ratings of the President and our Congressmen, sparking hope among themselves for the 2010 elections.  Again, those with more years of experience and observations can more easily view these changes as more of the normal ebb and flow of politics.

Rest assured that we will see more changes in society, economics, and politics.  The economy will bounce back–we just don’t know when.  Meanwhile, in just the last 30 years, I’ve seen the market move from 700 to 14,000, so the current level of 11,000 doesn’t seem like such an “unprecedented” disaster.  I’ve seen Democrats and Republicans swap power time after time.  The fact that the Democrats currently have so much power only reinforces my expectations that the Republicans will once again return to power someday, only to move the country so far to the right that the people will then vote them out of office, etc., etc.  Indeed, “there is nothing new under the sun.”

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