Press-Republican

Columns

June 26, 2011

How will future civilizations remember us?

Our nation's anniversary is approaching. Today, nearly 235 years after the Declaration of Independence, we are still grateful to Sam Adams, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and crew for what they started.

Still, there are things our Founding Fathers did that still have us, in retrospect, shaking our heads in confusion or disdain.

Powdered wigs? Corsets, square-toed shoes and tri-cornered hats? They used outhouses without applying hand sanitizer afterwards. They only allowed landowners to vote.

They also drove native peoples off their lands, and supported slavery.

My question is, in 2246, what will people read about us in the history books that makes them laugh or frown?

From a 23rd century perspective:

▶ People paid $4 for a cup of gourmet coffee? That's expensive, even after 235 years of inflation.

▶ People paid $4 for a gallon of gas? Now gasoline costs $1.8 million per liter on eBay. (Yes, eBay is still going strong, and is in fact the largest corporation in the United States of Google.)

▶ People died of cancer? Now every child gets a cancer inoculation as an infant.

▶ They traveled around in vehicles powered by fossil fuels, which poisoned their own atmosphere?

▶ They watched television on two-dimensional screens as tiny as 52 inches wide?

▶ What was up with that college football bowl system? In 2246, there is a college football tournament and "December Madness" is the nation's most-watched sporting event.

▶ They used money made out of paper? Paper that tears, wrinkles, shreds, burns?

▶ They read books written on paper? Paper from countless ravaged forests?

▶ Television stars made a thousand times what policemen, teachers and ice cream truck drivers made? Now that has been reversed; television acting is mostly terrible, but every criminal is caught, and every student graduates.

▶ Hard-working citizens got two weeks of vacation in a calendar year? Now everyone gets at least two months.

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