Experience is the Best Teacher

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” said George Santayana as he tried to remind his wife that spicy foods just made her sick instead of inducing labor when they were expecting their first child, so it probably wouldn’t work this time either.

Okay, that story is most definitely not true. But Santayana did provide us with the cautionary quote.

I’ve always held that our lived experience is the best teacher to prepare us for what is up ahead. Once you’ve learned your letters your ability to read and comprehend, goes exponentially faster. Your first breakup is (usually) harder than subsequent breakups (says the lady who has always broken up with the person she was dating. I have never been dumped.) The more you cook the better you get at it. Practice may not make perfect, but it certainly leads to better.

Yes indeed, experience is the best teacher.

But what about the experiences of others?  Can we learn from, and apply, lessons others have learned through their lived experiences? I would put to you, dear reader, that the answer to this is yes. In our relationships, we can learn from the red flags of another person and leave the relationship before it goes south. If we find ourselves questioning the personhood of someone else we can look to the lessons learned in Measure of a Man from Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 2. We can, in theory, look through history to discover that the times when we (as a people) feel the most beaten down are also the times when we are the most likely to choose leaders that are going to hurt a minority population and we can approach elections with a clearer head.

What situations have you been in where you looked to your own experience or the experiences of others to inform your decision?

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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