Just so’s you know, this is something I think about often.
It blows my mind that anyone ever thought slavery was sanctioned by God. Or that it was natural to give the vote to all (property-owning) men, but not women. Or that diseases were often caused by demonic possession. These things make me wonder what was being added to their water – or, rationally, how they managed to convince themselves that they were doing the right thing.
Even more so, I wonder, what do we believe today that will cause our descendants to wonder what in the heck we were thinking?
My first guess would be something about how we think it’s acceptable for people to bankrupt themselves over medical issues (conversely, that anyone feels morally capable of profiting by other people’s health problems).
What else? What else will our descendants, 20 or 50 or 100 years from now, have to generously excuse us for being crazily blind about? What will the high school history teachers of the next century have to take pains to explain?
I think eventually our descendants will think us barbarians for having discriminated against homosexuals. How could some of us possibly have cared so passionately about whether or not they were permitted to marry? How could anyone have, in good conscience, opposed this?
It will probably be longer than 100 years, but I think one day people will be creeped out by the fact that their ancestors ate the flesh of animals. They’ll be accustomed to eating some kind of artificially grown protein that never walked around and mooed.
That people actually managed to work themselves into frothing madness over being wished “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” instead of “Merry Christmas” or seeing something called a “holiday card” or “greeting card” instead of “Christmas card”, etc., etc.
I don’t know about the War on Drugs in general, but the habit of putting people in jail for smoking pot is definitely going to be considered madness on par wit the Salem witch trials. Jailing drug addicts instead of treating them will be considered to have been barbaric.
The death penalty will eventually be relegated to the same historical dustbin as drawing and quartering, blood eagles, etc.
Opposition to birth control (as opposed to abortion) will be considered primitive superstition on par with opposition to medical treatments.
Religious belief in general will eventually be considered just another variant on superstitious belief in magic.
The notion that everyone should be allowed to own assault rifles will be the subject of much eyebrow raising.
This sea-change is already in progress: my children’s generation is amazed that their parents’ generation could have a problem with freely making multiple copies of any CD, DVD, or computer game that happens to take their fancy, and giving those copies to all their friends and their friends’ friends and their friends’ friends’ Myspace friends…
“‘Justifyable homicide’? ‘Self-Defense’? That’s sick! Murder is murder, and violence is violence—no exceptions. A civilized human being should know to calmly accept that it may be their time to die, and just hope that it’s over quickly!”
Our inability to die with dignity. Our persistence on length of live vs. quality of life.
I think one day we may look back on diamonds and wonder why we paid so much for things that a. aren’t as rare as we are told b. hold very little resale value for the most part c. are such inflated in value because there is basically ONE supplier.
I am pretty certain that the McMansions of today will not hold their value and be as lovingly restored as Victorians and Craftsman’s have been.
In some ways, I think we are rather in the Dark Ages when it comes to religion. I certainly hope that tolerance will be more common and the norm.
I think the old talking heads of news shows are the dinosaurs and are on their way out. We have no Walter Kronkite and journalism of old is dying quickly. Reading a local newspaper is pathetically dominated by AP stories rather than their own journalists.
The idea that we could be so profligate with energy and other resources.
Depending on how society goes, either they will be horrified at our attitudes against homosexuality, women Presidents, religious intolerance, taking creationism seriously, and so on; or horrified that we don’t stone heretics, keep women barefoot, illiterate and pregnant, and shoot “evolutionists” and homosexuals.
They will either be horrified at the widespread poverty we allow, disgusted that we let the non-rich walk around without slave implants, or amazed that we could support cites of millions and fly.
I think opposition to gay rights, belief in a 600 year-old earth, belief in the rapture, racism, sexism, and all sorts of other unpleasant isms will still be around in a century, and probably in a millennium. Unfortunately.
Human beings have a remarkable capacity for willful ignorance.
Everyone is assuming that what is considered desirable will come about. But what if some sort of huge catastrophe – natural disasters on an unprecedented scale, nuclear holocaust, whatever – disrupts society in such a way that the clock is turned back? What if our grandchildren can’t believe slavery was ever considered a bad thing and view the current slave-free staus of the US merely a historical blip? What if gays are hunted down for sport with pack dogs while the hunters ridicule their “idiot” ancestors?