In the Game of Life…
It’s Like Déjà Vu All Over Again

Yogi Berra was a great hitter and catcher, but he also had an all-star ability to create a long list of aphorisms like, “It's like déjà vu all over again.”

Yogi Berra

I don’t recall whether or not George Santayana ever played baseball, but he had many famous aphorisms also, “History is the great teacher. Thus, it is that those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.”

George Santayana

While I don’t have the athletic prowess of Berra or the intellectual abilities of Santayana, I have my own aphorism. For example, every class that I have ever taught has heard this one, “It doesn’t matter at all what grade you get in this class. However, it does matter what grade the world will give you as a result of this class.” Essentially, the grade that the registrar receives from me will have no bearing upon the students’ lives, provided they passed the class. While students are in class, there are many important learning opportunities for them beyond reading the textbook. They need to listen to what is discussed in class and then absorb it.

Case in point. When I was in college, I took German as my foreign language requirement. My German professor was Frau Evans. I did okay grade wise, and I still can speak some German that I learned a half century ago. However, I learned a great deal about life.

This photo of Frau Evans is from my yearbook.

Frau Evans was born in Germany prior to WWII. When the Allies defeated the German, she happened to meet an American officer who was in charge of the area where she lived near Munich. At that time, she was in her mid-20s, fell in love with this officer, and were married. Not long after the end of the war, she left Germany with her American husband.

She often talked about the runup to the war and the problems that the war created for Germany. One day, someone in the class asked her about the concentration camps. She said that there were rumors about them, but the average German citizen had very little firsthand knowledge of any of these detention centers and knew less regarding the level of the atrocities. In fact, at the end of the war, all the German civilians had to visit a concentration camp. It was a firsthand learning experience for them. Most Germans couldn’t imagine what the German government had done to millions of people in the concentration camps.

Therefore, while I learned to speak German, somewhat, I learned far more than merely the ability to say, “Entschuldigung bitte, konnen Sie mir sagen, wo die Bahnhof ist?” I learned from a German civilian about what it was like during WWII.

Now, jump to the present. Along our Southern border, there are many versions of our concentration camps. Some are run by the government and others are outsourced to private companies. Americans are far more aware of our detention centers than the average Germans were back in the 30s-40s.

This is a detention center.

Trump claims, “Many of these illegals aliens are living far better now than where they came from, and in far safer conditions.” Aside from his grammatical error regarding illegals, how would he know? Then our fake president tweeted, “If illegal immigrants are unhappy with the conditions in the quickly built or refitted detention centers, just tell them not to come. All problems solved.”

Well, our problems aren’t solved. Besides, these people were looking for asylum. Yogi Berra was correct, “It's like déjà vu all over again.” George Santayana was equally correct, “History is the great teacher. Thus, it is that those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” Speaking of people being correct, Emma Lazarus, wrote in her sonnet, The New Colossus, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free….”