Thursday, January 14, 2010

If Only Time Travel Existed

I have often wondered what it would be like if someone from the past could time-travel to today. In some ways, I am more thankful for the things I have now when realizing that life twenty, fifty, or two hundred years ago was so different. Then again, sometimes I wonder if a world-traveler or housewife or cowboy would look at our lives and shake their heads.

I'm not talking about technology in the sense of cell phones or iPods or even cars and planes. Those things are beyond some people currently living. My grandmother is a good example: she recognizes that new technology exists, but she pretty much refuses to use it. She has a plug-in-to-the-wall phone, a cassette tape player, and has never flown. She did drive, though.

What would Christopher Columbus (or some other explorer, Degas for one) think of how we travel? What would he think of battleships or aircraft carriers? What would Columbus think about trade and how we constantly ship supplies? How would he approach air travel? Where would he want to go? What would he say about how easy/difficult it can be to travel to some countries and not others ("do you have a flag?")?

What would Lewis and Clark think of how we've expanded the country? What would they say about the relegation of natives to reservations? What would they think of cross-country railroads or the national highway system? Do you think they predicted all of it, or could they even imagine what their trip would spark? What would they say when they saw the Pacific Ocean from the same spot of land near Astoria? Would they recognize the northwest?

What would a fourteenth-century woman experience if she traveled through time? Would she be shocked at fashion, or would she eagerly embrace blue jeans and miniskirts? What would she think of an oven that cooks without flame (though admittedly I still prefer gas ranges to electric)? What would she say when she sees women working just like men, the children in school all day and then off to daycare, dinner from a box? What would she say about women globally? What would she think about women who can read and write, study and educate themselves?

I don't worry about space travel or computers or patent infringement cases between Kodak/Apple, Inc./Google/whatever bigwigs come next. I wonder about mechanical innovation and how that has shaped our lives. How has knowledge of selective breeding changed the way we eat? How has the wheel changed the movement of products both locally and globally? How has sanitation changed the way we live (for good or bad)?

These are the things I wonder.

4 comments:

cm0978 said...

I think one of the things they would be especially amazed about is the way communication has advanced: to be able to speak in real time to someone across the globe instead of waiting for your letter to be delivered by ship.

cm0978 said...

I think one of the things they would be especially amazed about is the way communication has advanced: to be able to speak in real time to someone across the globe instead of waiting for your letter to be delivered by ship.

whit-o-roni said...

*like*

...and i totally inspired this.

i often wonder these things too.

but in the year 3000, when our offspring looks back through history, will they say, "wow, they didn't have a clue," or will they say, "wow, they didn't know how good they had it?" what will life be like in 100 years? 500 years?

these things *i* wonder...

MissKris said...

Me, too.