If we seek solace in the prisons of the distant past
Security in human systems we're told will always always last
Emotions are the sail and blind faith is the mast
Without the breath of real freedom we're getting nowhere fast

If God is dead and an actor plays his part
His words of fear will find a place in your heart
Without the voice of reason every faith is its own curse
Without freedom from the past things can only get worse

Sooner or later just like the world first day
Sooner or later we learn to throw the past away
Sooner or later just like the world first day
Sooner or later we learn to throw the past away
Sooner or later we learn to throw the past away

History will teach us nothing
History will teach us nothing

Our written history is a catalog of crime
The sordid and the powerful, the architects of time
The mother of invention, the oppression of the mild
The constant fear of scarcity, aggression as its child

Sooner or later
Sooner or later
Sooner or later
Sooner or later

Convince an enemy, convince him that he's wrong
Is to win a bloodless battle where victory is long
A simple act of faith
In reason over might
To blow up his children will only prove him right
History will teach us nothing
Sooner or later just like the world first day
Sooner or later we learn to throw the past away
Sooner or later just like the world first day
Sooner or later we learn to throw the past away
Sooner or later we learn to throw the past away

History will teach us nothing
History will teach us nothing

Know your human rights
Be what you come here for
Know your human rights
Be what you come here for
Know your human rights
Be what you come here for
Know your human rights
Be what you come here for


Lyrics submitted by Novartza

History Will Teach Us Nothing Lyrics as written by Gordon Sumner

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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History Will Teach Us Nothing song meanings
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2 Comments

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  • 0
    General Comment

    This is a great little rant about how flakey we are about playing the same old creepy games over and over since the dawn of time. From one perspective, we could just sit down in hopeless despair and scream, why are we such insipid assholes?!!! Some of us do but it looks like the game—despite appearances, which can be deceiving—is not progress. And that is frustrating but the game can’t be progress. We like to presume—with little evidence—that we are more intelligent than those who lived before us. Chances are intelligence soars and dives in an exquisite dance defying our theories about it. We’re smart, we’re dumb. We’re smart here and dumb there. Balance. We can’t know how smart we are unless we know how dumb we are and it appears to not be some awareness that once gained is never forgotten for obvious reasons. We come and go. While we’re here, we change.

    All of this doesn’t make the song a useless rant. Far from it. It seems more a rant that goes along with how we live life—bitching about when we are not acting on our best behavior. Sometimes we don’t. It sounds callous to say that history would be boring as hell comprised of incident after incident of well-thought-out good behavior but it’s true. Someone would be itching to throw a rock through the window and we might all welcome this—having forgotten what good behavior even looks like because its pervading presence caused it to homogenize into non-existence.

    And there’s a great chance that Sting would even want to throw that rock—given this perspective.

    sillybunnyon July 29, 2006   Link
  • -2
    My Interpretation

    Disclaimer: My love of history may bias this interpretation.

    These lyrics betray a cynical view of history as merely a catalog of violence and failure, which we should forget if we want to progress as a humane species.

    While true that history repeats itself, the song's message is that studying history will, itself, cause us to repeat it. We are better off ignoring the past, so as to create a world free from the script of earlier, flawed actions.

    Rather than seek lessons from the experiences of the past, we should rely on reason and faith - logic (a recurring word throughout Sting's lyrics) and religion - two completely contradictory concepts. Thus, it's kind of a stupid song - I hate saying this because I am a huge fan of Sting and his music.

    dhdowning987on October 27, 2013   Link

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