Friday, July 22, 2011

What's left when we're gone

When I was a preteen, somebody showed me a picture book depicting the archaeological discovery of us, after junk mail inundated our society.  It was a humorous look at how archaeology sometimes get things wrong, and a silly look out our modern life.  It is something that through every course I took on interpreting the past, I have never forgotten; it also makes me wonder what future generations will think of our society and the mess we will inevitably leave behind us.

I don't expect that this society we live in will see a catastrophic, sudden end; because very few endings happen in such a delineated, tangible way.  I think we, as a society, as a culture will see a creeping decline that we won't notice until it's happened.  What will live on in our descendants?  The idea of equality or freedom, or maybe a sad tendency to neglect fact checking?  Will we pass on tolerance and acceptance and the idea that information should be shared for the good of all? Will secrecy and hierarchy prevail?  Will our monuments be a testament to our greatness or will they be huge reminders of our hubris and hypocrisy? What pieces of art, literature, and music will survive to define us?  Will our culture be looked back on as great accomplishment or a horrible failure? How will nature balance us out, because I have no doubt that in a time to come, humankind will be subdued and reshaped by the earth herself?

When you look into the future, what do you see?  How far can you see forward, and is the outcome inevitable?  So many questions, that I will not see answered in this lifetime, but ones that often occupy my thoughts.  I see highways that one day will crumble, but their path will outlive them.  the changes humans have created on Earth will outlive all cultures, and will likely outlive the species.  Strange, yes? What exactly will the historians and archaeologist of tomorrow see was our purpose? I hope I leave behind things worth finding.

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