I have a weird time warp phenomenon going on.
When I was younger, I remember thinking about the time period when my parents were children. About the time period when women received the right to vote. About the time period in which children worked in factories. About the time period when the Romanov family was killed. About the time period when Cleopatra ruled Egypt. Yes, I was mildly obsessed with historical events and tragedies.
But those times always seemed so far away to me. The idea that we might have had an economy heavily supported by slavery. The idea that women would not have been allowed to work, or vote, or even be considered seriously as having ideas of their own.
It led me to the thought process that people who had come before us were hopelessly backward. By thinking about these time periods as they were presented, I was able to push my own existence further away from the past, and to decide that the society I lived in now was somehow more enlightened.
And we aren’t. In fact, in some ways, we’re a lot more backwards than societies in the past were. Yes, we’ve had scientific and technological advances. And advances in social justice (obviously). But that doesn’t mean everyone in the past was somehow hopelessly stupid.
In Egypt, when Cleopatra was ascending the throne, women had a remarkable level of freedom. Different races lived together, different religions were allowed to co-exist. They had design plans for a freaking steam engine. And what happened? The Romans.
Recently, I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries about astronomy. I had never realized exactly how huge the universe is. I’m still pretty sure I don’t. It’s not just incomprehensible, it’s ridiculous.
And to think that our history should have had some kind of impact. When you’re looking at trillions of years, and a universe in which we are just a tiny, tiny forgettable spot on the edge of some galaxy which is floating with billions of other galaxies on the edge of the universe…why is it considered common that we have some sort of vast experience to draw from? The human race is an extremely recent development in galactic history, and, apparently, we’ve gone completely unnoticed by anyone else out there.
I’m still not sure if this realization about us has been more depressing or uplifting. I personally find it depressing that some people in this world seem to think we’re some epitome of something grand and plan-like. But the fact that we have seemed to muddle through our history with the human race intact is quite the comeback story.
But we have an awfully long way to go, and we have a lot to overcome.