We the Ancients

It is odd that we consider ourselves modern rather than ancient. What are the chances that we live closer to the end of time than to its beginning? It is a strange conceit to consider ourselves the culmination of history. Would it not make more sense to assume ourselves to be living, largely, in the deep past, with all the attendant problems of having learned so little?

Here we are hidden in the deep recesses of time, blithely making our way through the confusing fog of not knowing where we really live and never having left our own planet. We are stuck here in the past with our misconceptions, backward ways, silly superstitions, primitive technology, and frankly barbaric social practices.

Think of the things historians say of us. How they lament our decline in several critical areas that we consider progress. Also think of how romantic it is for us to live in such a simple time, before the advent of the complicated things that came after us. Oh to live in the quite years of the first decamillenium! How small are our worries compared to the dying of suns.

This mindset would behove us greatly. How interesting would it be to read a tablet by the Sumerians referring to themselves as ancients? How boorish is it to read old texts referring to themselves as “modern man?” But, furthermore, there is both a lightness and a seriousness to seeing ourselves at the beginning rather than the end. A lightness born of not expecting ourselves to very refined yet. A seriousness from the responsibility to build a legacy for humanity.

Enough with considering ourselves advanced, enlightened, or superior to our ancestors. Instead let us consider how inferior we are to what is possible. Let us be aware of how far we have to go, of how little we understand, and above all humbly endeavor to make the past in which we live a solid stepping stone for whatever came next.

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