I don’t really remember much of the history I was taught in grade school or high school for that matter. Having been raised in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), I was taught a lot about the history of Canada. From what I remember, there was something about Upper Canada and Lower Canada, and that’s about all I can remember. Oh, one more thing. I remember one of my 8th grade teachers being really passionate about Dieppe. Some may think less of me for not knowing the history of one of the countries I am a citizen in (and more importantly, grew up in), and to some degree they may be right.
During my undergrad, I took one survey course in history that was called, “The World to 1500.” So, for 16 weeks, 3 hours a week, we covered everything that happened in the world up to the year 1500. Needless to say, I’m sure some things were brushed over. I do, however, remember talking about Mesopotamia, ziggurats, and serfdom. I remember covering the many Pharaohs of Egypt, the various kings, and even the precursors to Protestant Reformation. As a class, we really went through the material quite quickly and out of necessity. I wonder what future generations, say, 9 or 10 generations from now, will be studying when they look back on our time?
Will the scold us for being too concerned with our technology? Will they look back and laugh because we killed each other because we wanted money? How about if we killed because we looked different from each other? Will they wonder how we ever lasted so long working 40+ hour work weeks? Will they laugh at the idea of a “work week”? Will they be confused as to why we didn’t treat each other as equals? Will they be confused at how we live with nature? Will they look at our relationship to nature and wonder how we were ever able to get nutritious food from the Earth? Will they read with terror about how we didn’t treat the Earth (read: global warming) with more care? Will they wonder if we really knew what we were doing this whole time? Will they think we were “that” generation?
I didn’t realize the value of a survey course until long after I had taken it. The very definition of a survey course is that you’re getting a brief overview of a lot of material. I think it is important to have this overview of information to be able to make better decisions about things. Having an overview affords one the ability to better recognize how things interact with each other. For instance, one example from this could be the drive to make more money causes the 40+ hour workweek to be not only pushed from bosses, but welcomed by employees (as they can make more money).
As I remember back to these times I’ve had thinking about history, I wonder what future generations will think of us. How will we fit into the bigger picture of history? Will we be viewed favorably? Will we look foolish? Will we be commended as the generation that ended hunger? What about as the generation that ended war? How about the generation that in one felt swoop, lifted every man, woman, or child, out of poverty, and into a state of abundance? I believe that we can do this. I believe that we have the power and we have the technology.
Given that we have the ability to solve so many of the world’s problems — I wonder what they will think of us… if we don’t.