The empty Nevada roads

Plinky.com asked me which historical person I would ask for advice and why.

While there are many people who are no longer with us that I would like to be able to see – most of them friends and relatives that have passed – I've got to say that there's no-one whose advice I would seek.

Primarily this is simply due to the nature of the world today – it has changed so much in the last decade alone (and the one before that) – so much so that the reference points of any truly historical figure would be completely different to my own; rendering their advice largely meaningless.

"Hey, Napoleon! You conquered most of the Eurasian continent… What do you think I should do about email overload and work-life balance? My commute's kind of sucky…"

:o)

In other answers to this prompt, I'm sure we're going to read about Ghandi, MLK, Jesus, Mohammed, The Founding Fathers, Lincoln, Queen Victoria, Einstein, Newton, Faraday, John Lennon… The list goes on. And, because history texts are written by the victors, we don't really get to see these historical characters as whole people, good and bad. These people weren't infallible, they made mistakes.

Many of the list above are referenced regularly in the media. This desire to find historical experience to help navigate today and tomorrow feels like denial or avoidance, like trying to maintain a child-state and not take adult decisions and choices.

For example, many in the Tea-party movement are citing the founding fathers like they have a direct hotline back to the drafting of the constitution. They don't. And trying to argue that Benjamin Franklin, or George Washington, or John Adams "would have wanted me to do this" is as insane as "the voices in my head tell me to do this".

I think the difference is whether people are "seeking advice" or "seeking answers" – the two are not the same. Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer to most questions, there's only the choice you make to move forward. So then the only advice that really counts is:

"Make your choice, be prepared to be wrong, and willing to change course if that turns out to be the case."

Doesn't seem like there's anyone from history that has any better qualification to provide that than the people who are right here, right now. Seek advice by all means, but seek it from people who know you, know what's happening and know what's important for tomorrow, not yesteryear.

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