If we could have a crystal ball that showed us the future, would it change our beliefs about our world?
I knew two veterans of World War One. Uncle Harrison Rothfield lost a piece of his arm at the terrible battle of Passchendaele, and 50 years later (approximately) he showed it to me. He was proud of his military service for Britain, and he once sang me the chorus of the song which he, as a child, heard British soldiers singing when they marched on their way to the boats that would take them to the Boer war in South Africa.
One verse went:
Goodbye Dolly I must leave you, though it breaks my heart to go,
Something tells me I am needed at the front to fight the foe,
See – the boys in blue are marching and I can no longer stay,
Hark – I hear the bugle calling, goodbye Dolly Gray.
On the German side in that war, Jewish soldier Otto was a short but brave man who told my dad he spent the war being very scared. Otto was my grandfather, and Harrison married the sister of my other grandfather.
If Otto had stumbled on a magical crystal ball in the mud of the trenches, and in it had seen the future rise of the Nazis, he would no doubt have deserted then and there. So that is an example of how knowing the future would drastically change a person’s worldview.
Imagine after the American Civil War, that a former slave gets hold of that magical crystal ball. The clouds in the crystal ball part to show him that after an interlude of segregation in the south, his descendants are treated equally under the law throughout the nation. But as he peers into the crystal, it speaks to him, giving him a “trigger warning” that disturbing material lies ahead. He continues to look anyway, and he sees other African descendants, at Yale University, marching in protest because of an email from a faculty member who wrote that students should be able to wear any Halloween costume they want. “Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive?” she wrote.
The crystal ball then abruptly changes to show the town of Rotherham, England where British and immigrant girls were made into sex-slaves by Muslim immigrant gangs:
“No one knows the true scale of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham over the years. Our conservative estimate is that approximately 1,400 children were sexually exploited…from 1997 to 2013.
“It is hard to describe the appalling nature of the abuse that child victims suffered. They were raped by multiple perpetrators, trafficked to other towns and cities in the north of England, abducted, beaten, and intimidated.”
One interesting aspect of this is that:
…. police and council bosses turned a blind eye for fear of being labelled racist, a damning report has concluded.
So our freed slave would have food for thought. He would see that equal rights morphed into something that began to impinge on other rights. He would see that a fear of being labeled a racist actually protected slavery.
Or imagine an early feminist in 1860, a time when only some states allowed women to vote. She stumbles across the same crystal ball, and it tells her that universal suffrage would be achieved, and that women would lead big corporations, and many would govern states of the union. But then a voice from the crystal ball gives the trigger warning. She ignores it, and keeps looking at the ball. And she learns about the “hookup culture” in a liberal arts college in Maine, a college that actually got embarrassed when a report revealed that:
a fairly large number of the female upperclassmen appeared to regret having been part of the hook-up culture. One of the regrets came from the discovery that the Bowdoin men are more interested in the new women on campus. Many of the female upperclassmen experienced a diminishment of their desirability, as they were replaced by fresh recruits to the hook-up scene….
As our incredulous feminist keeps looking, perhaps shaking the Crystal ball to make sure its not broken, she might come across this latest development in feminism, known as “shouting your status”:
Feminist blogger Ella Dawson…tweeted: “I’m not interested in playing identity politics. I’m a slut, and I have herpes. I am still a person who deserves respect.”
To Ms. Dawson, columnist Matt Barber responds that no one “deserves” respect automatically, and then adds:
Still, I wonder if Ms. Dawson has considered that the first aspect of her admission, “I’m a slut,” may at least be tangentially related to the second: “I have herpes.”
Alas, it appears no. As evidenced by a subsequent tweet, the causal connection between actions and consequences yet eludes our young friend’s tenuous grasp: “A few weeks ago, I told a cute guy at a bar that I had herpes. Then I slept with him. Hehehehe.”
Would the woman’s rights advocate, staring into that crystal ball give up feminism at this point? Would she wave her placards with a little less enthusiasm? Might she avoid burning down the local men’s club? (militant suffragettes did burn down men’s gathering places).
As the Garth Brooks song “The Dance” says:
And now I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end, the way it all would go
As students march for post-equality rights, including the right not to be offended, there is an increasingly hysterical, reality-removed aura, at least to me. For instance, right now, there are at least three Americans languishing in prison in Iran, a country that has promised to end the existence of the United States. Also, a young American has been sentenced to 15 years hard labor in North Korea. The students on our campuses are not marching for them. Students are not marching for Yezidi and Christian women who have been made into sex slaves by Islamic State followers. Where are the feminists? Where are the civil rights advocates?
Human beings, I was told by a elderly history professor, are infinitely plastic. Another elderly professor, this one of sociology, told me that she would never have believed how malleable the culture was. We do have a crystal ball – but it looks backwards- we can see what happened in history – whether on a grand scale, or in personal anecdotes.
I have no crystal ball, but I do see many negative trends. Thomas Sowell, a black conservative, says that he is thankful that he is old, because he won’t experience the future that he believes is coming.
Others have said this:
“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.” ― George Orwell,
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
– R. Buckminster Fuller
– Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/07/education/educator-recounts-painful-experience-of-halloween-email-furor-at-yale.html?_r=0 (Erika Christakis)
http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-south-yorkshire-28939089 (Rotherham sex slaves)
http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/mbarber/160411 Matt Barber takes on STD culture
http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2015/07/14/these-are-the-three-american-prisoners-abandoned-by-the-iran-nuclear-deal/ (Americans in Iranian jails)
http://www.reuters.com/video/2016/03/16/american-sentenced-to-15-years-hard-labo?videoId=367757938 – American sentenced to 15 years hard labor.