As we finally enter the voting season with the Iowa caucuses, I’m drawn back to these thoughts from 2013 on who we are and where we are headed. If hindsight is 20/20, why do we keep making the same mistakes over and over again?
What would you ask of a time traveler from a hundred years ago? And if you traveled a hundred years into the future, what would you want to tell the people you found there? Perhaps it would sound something like this:
What did you do to handle the overpopulations we predicted? How did you protect the seashores? What did you do to keep the ozone layer intact, the energy supplies, the trees? Have you eliminated ignorance, brutality, greed?
There might be no better way to discover unexamined truths about ourselves then by composing a letter to our grandchildren’s grandchildren. This was certainly on the mind of award-winning essayist Roger Rosenblatt a quarter century ago when he penned his deeplythoughtful Letter to 2086:
This letter will be propped up in a capsule at the Statue of Liberty, to be opened on the statue’s bicentennial. Go ahead. Undo the lock. I see your sharp, bright faces as you hoist us into your life, superior as cats to your primitive elders. Quaint, are we not? Beware of superior feelings. The message is in this bottle.
As a student of Jewish philosophy, I don’t believe in coincidences. So when my neighbor — out of the blue — handed me a long forgotten back issue of Time Magazine, the cover article by Mr. Rosenblatt resonated with the faint echo of providence. And although the intended audience still reside three generations in the future, this letter offers a tantalizing window into the past, as well as an illuminating perspective on how much has changed and how much has remained the same.