“There is no use in objecting because people don’t do what you think they should, especially in public concerns. The affairs of this world and this life are very incompletely transacted by people who do as you think they should. Most things that happen happen largely as a result of the activities of persons who do what you think they shouldn’t or of the failure to function of persons on whom you had built hopes.
Take the War! It was pretty much all a consequence of mistakes – the great preliminary mistake, well-distributed, of starting it: von Kluck’s mistakes that led up to the battle of the Marne, the mistakes of Gallipoli, and so on through four years of it until in spite or in consequence of all mistakes, the end came.
Take the Peace! Here we are, at this writing, in the earlier weeks of a political campaign, which aims chiefly to get the opinion of the country as to who made the worst mistakes after the War.
The great factor in history that is constant is the fallibility of man. The one thing we can count on in life is that people will blunder … One of the most useful exercises is to attempt something you have never done and think you can’t do. To do it you have to amend, enlarge, extend yourself, and if you do that it may be a bigger thing than to accomplish what you undertook. For to amend ourselves, enlarge and extend ourselves and become more than we began, is precisely what we are in this world for.
–Edward Sandford Martin
Our Convalescent World, 1927