The mark we leave on history must not be a stain
As an amateur history buff, I often find myself wondering how people in future generations will look back at this current mark on history’s timeline.
Will we be viewed as the “Age of Technology” — defined by the advancements and new world order brought about originally by the silicon chip, and carried forward through the untethering of wires in our lives via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth?
Or, will we be seen as the “Age of Communication” — an era when people first really developed the ability to reach each other through call, text, email and social media, thus rendering the notion of being “off the grid” as unfathomable?
Will future historians tag our generation as “The Great Divide” — that exact moment in time when we split apart at the seams over political idealogy?
The “Age of Information?” The “Age of Disinformation?”
Or, will our self-destructive and short-sighted ways simply lead to ruin and despair, leaving the topic of how future generations may see us as moot, since there might not be any further generations because of our actions?
Pie. Wouldn’t it be awesome if our contribution to the world’s history was our master work with pies? Like, people in 2396 would get together on Sunday nights to watch a show based in 2018 where all the central characters were sitting around a giant pie shop, eating a vast array of delectables while...
But I digress. I’ve been on a diet, so pie has been on my mind. A lot.
I fear that our mark on the world will, in fact, be a stain. Future generations will read about how the most powerful, innovative nation in the world tumbled down in status, and how citizens of European and North American nations split once and for all — not over race, religion, ethnicity or economic status, but by political affiliation. I worry that they will be reading about civil wars in developed nations, undeveloped nations being consumed by authoritative regimes, and disease and famine enveloping large swaths of population as world leaders show no interest in working with one another on solutions.
U.S. Sen. John McCain recently released some excerpts from his forthcoming memoir, “The Restless Wave.” Though I have had my ups and downs with some of McCain’s decisions and statements in the past, I truly agreed with the following:
“We are secluding ourselves in idealogical ghettos. We have our own news sources. We exchange ideas mostly or exclusively with people who agree with us, and troll those who don’t. Increasingly, we have our own facts to reinforce our convictions and any empirical evidence that disputes them is branded as ‘fake.’ That’s a social trend that is going to be very hard to turn around.”
That last part is of particular concern — can we get this turned around? Is there even an interest in coming together to work for the common good, or are we so far gone that reason, accountability and problem-solving are not as important as being right or telling someone else that they’re wrong, while adding a shot at their intelligence or intestinal fortitude in the process?
During a January lunch with several television news anchors, President Donald Trump said that he would love to unite the country, but hopes to do so without a traumatic event, according to “PBS News Hour.”
“I would love to be able to bring back our country into a great form of unity,” said Trump, via PBS. “Without a major event where people pull together, that’s hard to do. But I would like to do it without that major event because usually that major event is not a good thing.”
He’s right. When is the last time one could honestly say this nation was united? 9/11? And that only lasted a couple days before everyone started blaming each other. I remember watching two talking heads scream over each other on one of the cable news stations a few days after the attack, and wondering if I was crazy for believing that Osama bin Laden and his merry band of murdering cowards was at fault, as opposed to liberal policies or conservative aggression.
All that being said, we are Americans. We tend to do our best work when our backs are against the wall, and it is easy to see that we are awfully close to that threshold. What we need is a bridge.
To be honest, I’m not even sure a tragedy would do it at this point. Sandy Hook and other mass shootings have been horrific events, and they’ve only driven us further apart as gun-control conversations have deepened our divide. Disputes with foreign nations only bring more political rancor, and we can’t even agree what the underlying problems are with these situations, let alone try to solve them.
Politicians? Yeah, they’ve proven time and time again to only enhance our differences more, trying to appease their bases instead of governing without an “eye on the polls.”
Musicians? Too opinionated. Actors? Please. Columnists? Too biased. Athletes? Well, taking any kind of stand for an athlete is bad for one’s career (ask Colin Kaepernick how his career is going). Community leaders? Well, they better not be religious figures, because, you know...
What we really need to do is become “The Age of Reason.” There must be a push by “We the People” to solve problems, instead of creating new ones. And we must use our votes to elect adults who will work on our behalf, not their own.
And pie. We need lots of pie.