Student of History
"There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know."
President Truman went on to explain what he meant.
"No, there is not really anything new, if you know what has gone before. What is new to people is what they do not know about their history or the history of the world.
"The human animal hasn't changed much since the beginning. For example, there was greed even between Cain and Abel. The laws of the ancients had to meet the same sort of situations and problems that we face now. I do not think that there is as great a percentage of fundamentally crooked people now as there was in the Middle Ages. I think the most scandalous period ever in the history of the world was the Dark Ages, because the people did not have the education and the background to know what was right from wrong.
"I'm a great optimist about people and their future. But it's not enough to know history without doing something about the future.
"This Republic of ours is probably the accumulation of all the experiences of the Roman republic and the Greek idea of free speech and the British contribution in the form of the bill of rights. Another country will eventually come along that may be greater than ours but meanwhile we have got to make our contribution. And we are making our contribution in helping to fight for peace and bring about the proper development of all the resources of the world, so that people everywhere can have something more important to do than murdering each other. At least that is what I hope for -- what we hope for -- and hope is no good without some work. You've got to work for it."
I said: "You often draw parallels from history, Mr. President. Can you give me one or two?"
"Well," he said, "take Darius the Great of Persia. Darius was one of the greatest ad-