What if the “you” of the future came back in time to change something and you don’t remember what it was?
You know all those situations where they posit what they’d do if they could go anywhere in time and make a change? I’d go back and kill Hitler! I’d move the people from Pompeii before the mountain blew up! I’d give the indigenous people WMDs to fight off the invaders from Europe, and a vaccine for smallpox. Grand assumptions.
But what if, in your travel backward through time, all your present knowledge is lost because it hasn’t happened yet? How would you know what to change? We look at pivotal moments in history and say to ourselves, “That was a pivotal moment in History! Why didn’t anyone recognize it as such?!” It’s hard to see the picture when you’re in the frame.
We know that actions have consequences! That’s a foregone conclusion. Think of all the actions that are happening at once here in this time. Which ones will be pivotal? What influence do you have on current circumstances? What if you are the only one capable of averting a disaster, and you don’t know you’re it? Where does that leave the rest of us? What if there are a lot of pivotal moments and some are ignored because they seem secondary?
Take a look at what sparked WWI…the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. What if all the rest of the pivotal moments had been countered and this one didn’t seem important enough to change the outcome? The problem gets compounded by decision paralysis. How many sparks does it take to start a fire? Ask the firefighters in California! If you have thousands of little sparks, and you try to douse all of them individually, you may miss one–or 10 or 50… So, you drop tons of water to catch all of them and assume it’s taken care of and one little burning leaf floats down on the ONLY spot the water didn’t hit. Conflagration!
You may have heard the saying, “Success leaves clues.” The obverse is also true. “Disaster leaves clues.” If, like me, you love crime procedural shows, you’ll know that Not All Information you discover is a clue, and you may not find all the clues you need to come to a conclusion. You have to become adept at looking at the information you have at hand and deciding if it may be a clue to future situations. If you continuously put garbage where you can’t see it, it doesn’t necessarily mean that someone won’t find it. What’s that funny smell? Why are all the bugs going in that direction? Was that a rat? Where’s my favorite t-shirt? And my favorite… Where’s that annoying neighbor that complained about the smell?
In order to recognize impending disaster, you have to understand what the myriad of causes of disaster looks like. How do you do that? Oh…study history. But that doesn’t mean names, dates, and places. It has to be an integrated look. X happened in the year YYYY, while Z was the leader. What was the climate like? Were there droughts or floods or a blizzard? What was the economy like? Who was trading with whom? Who didn’t have water access? Who had to cross mountains? What was the housing like? What was the employment picture? What was going on with the culture? How was the language affected? What was happening on the religious front? What effect did the politics have on the situation?
Was any of this information taught in school when you learned it? Probably not! What were the medical, geographical, geological, and biological sciences doing at the time? Do we need to know that? OF COURSE!
Are you curious now? So if you had been sent back to this time to determine the future by making one change, what would it be?