Sunday, December 27, 2009

Hindsight with cataracts

They say "Hindsight is 20-20", meaning after we find out what happens, we can understand it all perfectly.  Hmm, maybe not so much.  The year 2009 is ending.  Do we understand it perfectly?  The recession and economic turndown is not something I perfectly understand.  I am pretty sure it had something to do with housing mortgages and customers and loan vendors arranging mortgages on houses that were way too high.  Too high for both the income of the people undertaking the mortgage and too high based on the expected value of the house and property. 

But there are other movements, forces and changes going on that also matter.  There always are.  So when will the hindsight be perfect? 

I like the fact that history is always being revised.  Madame Curie's discovery of radioactivity was a mystery.  Then, it was a great breakthrough.  Then it was a horrible source of death and bodily destruction as time wore on and more was known about the phenomenon.  (Some toothpaste in the '20's or '30's intentionally radioactive ingredients and were advertised as extra-healthy.)

Lynn and I listened to Philip Dialeander speak about the collapse of the Roman empire.  Turns out it isn't clear what exactly happened.  One of the leading explanations is evidently population collapse.  For reasons unknown, the population fell.  That was way back in the 5th century.  We revise our beliefs about what happened when and of course, as our lives and  conditions change, our explanations and understandings change, too.

No one spends more time with me than my wife.  We know each other pretty well.  Yet, we find that our pictures of each other, our grasp of each other's tastes and moods and desires are often out of date or incomplete.  If we, devoted to understanding and in constant communication and contact, don't really understand each other, what are the chances that I understand the U.S. Senate or the Russians or the Unitarians? 

I feel confident that some basic truths now about our family or our nation or our planet are up for change.  I don't know which they are and I don't know what sort of change or when.  I do expect it.  My hindsight is always being modified.

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