What a world we live in. I was talking to a group this morning and commented on how, back in the good ol’ days, we knew who the good guys and bad guys were. If it had a red hammer and sickle, bad, if it reeked of Norman Rockwell, good.
Today we get to experience all the joys and blessings of terrorism carried out by others that blend into society. Maybe we could pass a law legalizing terrorism but require those seeking to take advantage of said laws to wear a big red T on their clothes so the rest of us knew when to start running. “Hey, see that lady over there…the one with the red T on her dress, she’s looking around and digging through her bag…maybe it’s time to cut our trip to Disneyland short.”
What if someone actually invented a time machine? Well first off they’d probably send someone back to Soviet Invasion era Afghanistan. Our good friend and ally Osama Bin Laden would get a visit from one of his CIA friends and get the surprise of his about to end instantly life. When everyone else asked why he’d just been shot in the head, “Uh, not really going to work out after all, hey you look like a reasonable guy!” After several more rounds of weeding out everyone that would eventually take his place as leader of Al-Qaeda, we’d eventually have the current terrorism threat eliminated and would instead be planning trips to Disneyland Kabul. Seems to me that torturing all his friends in Egyptian jails had some sort of polarizing effect too, so we might want to nix that too.
So what next, Saddam, Pol Pot, Mao, Hitler, Lenin, Napoleon, the list would go on and on. The only problem is that sooner or later we’d either wipe out one of the ancestors of the time machines inventors or allow some new bad guy to appear out of history and wipe out our ancestors, effectively shutting down the time machine before its invention. Wouldn’t it all instantly revert back to the original version of reality or would the incremental changes that we’d already accomplished stick?
Given enough trips through the time machine, it seems to me that time would eventually come to a grinding halt as we ran through scenario after scenario, trying to get just the right balance. Would we get stuck in a loop of the present? “Okay so this time you have to go kill Jacob the sheepherder because he’ll give water to Micah, the leper, who will someday save the life of evil guy #61,104. By the way, we don’t have to worry about Saddam anymore because Jacob was his great great (74 more greats) grandfather!”
So lets say that somehow, despite all the constant tinkering with history, we actually manage to progress forward in time, maybe all the works already been done in the future and guess what, turns out Stalin, Hitler and all out historical favorites were actually the lesser of two evils! If Hitler hadn’t been allowed, something worse would have happened!
So we arrive in the future, a future filled with genetically engineered teacup Great Danes, tomatoes that do not get ripe until you tell them to and peaches that can be picked as blooms off the tree and still arrive at the local Sprawlmart, but actually taste like peaches (finding a peach that tastes like a peach would be a miracle itself).
One day the teacup Great Dane walks out into the garden, takes a leak on the tomatoes and viola, through the miracle of genetic engineering and unforeseen side effects, a T-Rex is spawned. Suddenly all over the world weird new combinations spring to life and ravage the landscape, like some cheesy Godzilla movie. Do we climb back in the time machine yet again and go stop genetic engineering? Maybe we build a bigger time machine and throw all the new stuff in it and ship it off elsewhere, the distant past!
Gods sitting up in Heaven, hanging out with the angels, playing canasta when, “What on Earth?”, the Earth he’s been toying with in the back of his mind spontaneously appears 4 billion years earlier than he’d planned on working on it. Dinosaurs appear from nowhere. Maybe the Earth was still way down on the “honey do” list. “No I don’t like this at all, lets throw one of those big rocks at it and clear all this junk off”. Meteor blast, all the big stuffs dead and buried; suddenly the scientists get their fossil record free of any religious implications and the true believers are still right about the Earth being so new. Creation comes after the time machine delivers the fossil record and Earth 3,999,994,000 years early. The Earth is ignored until God finally creates it from scratch, right on His schedule, closing the loop.
Hmm, maybe Ghingas Khan, Napoleon, Lenin, Stalin, all our favorite bad guys from history were sent back from the future to a time when they could do less damage than they originally did. Maybe the society of the future has evolved and abolished the concept of a death penalty and we are their prehistoric times, their jail.
Maybe, someday in the future when time travel is possible, we will be smart enough to recognize the futility of trying to change the past. Humanity goes through rough patches, most survive, we learn and grow through our experiences. No adult in their right mind wants to re-experience puberty and high school, yet we all learned from our experiences, we try to help our children through what can be a trial by fire. We’ve all had our nightmare jobs that we forever measured all other jobs against, we will all experience the death of loved ones. Life is a school, we learn about good and bad, joy and pain and have become who we are today because of these experiences. I for one would not trade the certainty that I have for the vagueness of the unknown.
Things could have always been worse. There could be no more Jews, Gypsies, Kurds, Tutsis or Armenians. The black plague could have spread worldwide and killed more, a rough concept if any of your ancestors, known or unknown, came from one of these groups.