The Importance Of Not Being Original

Some things are worth saying over and over again. I’m sure that’s been said before, but it’s worth repeating. At our house, we said  “sit down” and “eat your food” so often that my wife started saying those phrases in Irish, just to break the monotony. Still, we knew that saying it over and over again was the only way to get to the point of not having to say it over and over again.

But there are some things we’ll never get to that point with. There are some things that will need to be said as long as there are people on Earth. The reason for this is that us humans tend to forget basic truths almost as soon as we remember them. We work and fight and kill each other to right some horrible wrong like genocide, oppression, or slavery, then turn around and create new ways of doing the exact same things, like abortion, police brutality, or human trafficking. Each victory bleeds into a new battle, where we have to say the same old truths all over again, like “all people are valuable” and “all men are created equal”.

Yes, it would be a thrill to be the one to discover some groundbreaking new idea that could solve all our problems. Unfortunately, those who try the hardest to have these kind of ideas often end up being the ones who unleash new troubles on the world (with all the very best of intentions). History is full of examples of this principle at work: The idealistic French Revolution led to the terrors of the guillotine and the tyranny of Napoleon. The hedonistic sexual revolution contributed to family breakdown and the rise of Tinder swipe-culture and disposable commitments. The materialistic industrial revolution grew on the backs of child labourers and taught us that value is always counted in currency. Revolutionary new ideas often do succeed in righting some of the old wrongs, but they also succeed in planting the seeds of new wrongs, eventually leading to new revolutions. And still—after all our new ideas—the same old problems remain.

This is why I don’t believe that the world needs more bright and shiny original ideas to solve the current forms of the same old problems we’ve always had. What the world needs is the same old truths it has always needed, applied with courage and care to the specific battles of today. What the world needs is the same old Saviour who said “I am the way, the truth, and the life”, before giving his own life to make a way for humanity to break out of our never ending cycle of self-destruction and find life as it was made to be, in him.

I’m not saying that all new ideas are bad, only that the best new ideas are actually old ideas, tested and true and fitted carefully into a new situation. Because when it comes down to it, there’s very little that’s new that really needs to be said. Mostly there’s just a few old things that need to be said again. 

And again. 

And again.

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