Conflict from history can teach us many things about ourselves and the times in which we live. Discuss.
By studying the motives and reasons for the Salem witch hunts, we learn more about the rigid religious beliefs by which the society in which the conflict took place was established. It is quite interesting, really.
George Santayana has been quoted many times for his words about this same idea in The Life of Reason, Volume I, 1905. He says:
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. In the first stage of life the mind is frivolous and easily distracted, it misses progress by failing in consecutiveness and persistence. This is the condition of children and barbarians, in which instinct has learned nothing from experience.
This is Arthur Miller's point in The Crucible. We obviously didn't learn from the experiences of the Salem Witch Trials, so this insanity was repeated with McCarthyism. Miller saw the parallels between what happened in Salem and what was happening in America during the 1950s. The common emotion that these two events share is fear. The leaders of Salem and the leaders in Congress played on people's fears, resulting in the death and ruin of people's lives.
History can teach us, but we must be willing to learn history's lessons. Otherwise, we repeat the mistakes. Go to the links below for much more on this topic.