Enid News & Eagle, Okla., David Christy columnEnid News & Eagle, Okla. — David Christy Enid News & Eagle, Okla.
Jan. 13--"Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth." ~ "Meditation," by Marcus Aurelius
What will America and the world look like to future historians?
We look back at our history, where iconic landmarks and statues and memorials pull our minds eye back to the early days of this nation, our roots, our founding, our development as the greatest immigrant nation in world history.
In 1,000 years, if we have not been hit by an asteroid, laid waste by super volcano Yellowstone, been returned to the Stone Age by a nuclear war, killed off by drought or been decimated by some disease we thought eradicated, what will America look like?
Or even 100 years in the future, how will we be perceived by future historians, anthropologists, by future Americans -- if there are future Americans, since that is no certainty.
America -- so go the future tales in year 2218 -- was a thriving place, like ancient Atlantis. It was laid waste by super hurricanes and tornadoes, by massive earthquakes that ravaged great cities -- its Statue of Liberty fallen into the ocean, the great faces of Mount Rushmore shaken and broken into rubble.
Or, America imploded from within, its Constitution fallen on hard times and little noted, its institutions governed by massive corporations, the big brother of George Orwell's 1984, making life-and-death decisions over the masses who labored to feed corporate greed.
Or, will America be pretty much the way it is today -- with more and greater innovations, with most Americans enjoying the fruits of their labors and democracy?
Of course, none of us has a crystal ball to see into the future, to see even minutes ahead at what will transpire.
Just speculation and fodder for books, movies and conspiracy theorists.
So, what will we look like to future historians?
Today, America is blessed with iconic symbols like the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, the Gateway Arch and Washington Monument, the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials.
As we look back on world history, we still can see the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Sphinx, Versailles, London Bridge, castles great and small across Scotland, England and dotting the European continent.
There's the great palaces in Russia and the Great Wall of China.
We still read about the famous Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
How many of them still are with us?
The Great Pyramid is -- the other six are no more.
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, built about 605 BCE (if they actually existed) -- destroyed by an earthquake.
The Greek statue of Zeus in the Temple at Olympia, which fell into ruin after the rise of Christianity and a ban on the Olympic Games as pagan rites. The statue was taken to Constantinople and destroyed by an earthquake.
The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, destroyed by the Goths.
The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus in Asia Minor, destroyed by an earthquake.
The Colossus of Rhodes, a great statue of the god Helios, destroyed by an earthquake.
The Lighthouse at Alexandria, again destroyed by an earthquake.
You see the pattern here, don't you?
Anything great built by man can and will be destroyed by man or by nature.
Will great landmarks on these shores meet a similar fate?
Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, from his "Meditations," said "What we do now echoes in eternity."
You might have heard that line from the character Maximus Decimus Meridius in the movie "Gladiator."
Even though the movie was historical fiction, that quote was from the noted Emperor Marcus Aurelius, one of the five good emperors of Rome.
It may be one of the greatest quotes of all time.
What we do now, in our everyday lives, in our government, in our way we treat one another, in the way we treat our planet and everything in it, will echo in eternity, even though we only grudgingly recognize that fact today.
It will echo, despite our best or worst efforts -- no matter how badly we want it to be so, no matter how much we think things like global warming or the national debt matter -- or don't matter.
It will echo in eternity, for good or bad or indifferent.
I'm sure similar questions crossed the minds of our forefathers, and their forefathers.
It can be a very sobering look at what the future of planet Earth will be -- or not be.
As the sage works and writings of William Shakespeare still resonate with us today: "To be or not to be, that is the question."
How will Americans, how will Europeans and Asians and others answer that simple question.
I don't know. That jury is out, as it has been from our very beginning. And ... that jury will always be out, until the end of times.
Christy is news editor at the Enid News & Eagle. Visit his column blog at www.tinyurl.com/Column-Blog
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