Imagine that you are the passenger in a car on a long work-related road trip. In the driver’s seat is your boss — a hard, driving tyrant of a man who seems to be on his last nerve. He’s driving the two of you to your destination on a busy, narrow two-lane highway. You hoped to get this trip over with a minimum amount of communication between the two of you, and so far, it’s going okay. But there’s just one problem. You checked your GPS…he’s headed in the wrong direction. He’s been heading in the wrong direction for over an hour.
You’re terrified to say anything. In his current mood, he might stop the car and tell you to get out. He might fire you or cut your hours. But getting to your destination on time is too important. You decide to speak up and tell him you think that the two of you are headed the wrong way.
He responds as you’d expect him to respond — he’s angry and insulted. He tells you to “keep your damn mouth shut” and continues driving. At first, you obey but after another 10 minutes of heading in the wrong direction you insist that he reverse course. Finally, he pulls over, slams the gear into park and gets out of the car. “You think you’re so smart? Then you drive! I’m taking a nap in the backseat!” And so he crawls into the backseat and you take the wheel.
You would love to turn around right then and there, but there’s too much traffic and the road is too narrow. Your only hope is to continue driving in the same direction and make a U-turn at the earliest available opportunity. It could come up in five miles or 50 miles — you don’t know. But it will come eventually, so you get back on the highway and drive.
After 25 miles, you see a rest area that allows you to stop and turn around safely. You’re now set to reach your destination, later than you planned, but still better late than never.
The Analogy Applied to History
When I think of human history, I think of the centuries that humans lived under the tyranny of kings who ruled by Divine Right, or religious rulers who burned heretics at the stake, or of civilizations who bought and sold slaves as all civilizations…