When my sister and I were in our early teens, our mother would often take us to a ranch where we could ride horses. Since we were considered too young to go off on our own, we had to ride inside a stadium. As we got better, we were allowed to ride faster, to gallop, and even, at times, to do some jumping. But no matter how good we got, we were not permitted to leave the enclosed area.
There may be times in our lives when we think we are going around in circles without really getting anywhere. There may be periods when problems and unpleasant circumstances keep reappearing despite our best efforts to surmount them. Most of us know what it is like to be stuck in a rut, running in place, so to speak, without really making any genuine progress; or, even worse, thinking we have overcome a particular difficulty only to find it reappearing in another form.
Basic to this sense of inevitable or repetitive evil is the mortal belief in cycles. It would appear that much of what happens in human experience is governed to some extent by this universal and mistaken belief. For instance, there's the business cycle. Times of economic growth and prosperity are thought to be regularly followed by a period of slack, of recession. And there's the belief that certain diseases must work through a kind of cycle, through different phases that we ignorantly endow with the authority of law. Geneticists assert that certain physical and mental traits (often undesirable ones) can repeat themselves in future generations.