Looking back on 2010, in 200 years

It’s hard to believe that slavery was once an acceptable idea. A lot of ideas that were common in the past are unfathomable now. It appears to many people, including me, that the society we live in is constantly shredding old prejudices and irrational ways of thinking. I believe this process will continue for many more years, and will probably never end.

An interesting question, then, is what common beliefs from the year 2010 will be held in contempt 200 years from now. In the year 2200, will human beings look back on our civilization with the same kind of shame that we now feel toward the slave traders from the 18th century? What characteristic of our society will elicit shock and horror in future generations?

If society continues to progress in the direction it has been for the last few hundred years, I can venture a guess, and that is:

My prediction: I believe the commonly held view that a person’s moral worth comes from their citizenship is the most pernicious and depraved idea of our age.

It is responsible for cavalier attitudes to waging war on foreigners and an indifference and unwillingness to alleviate their suffering. I hope and pray that in the coming centuries this belief will be seen as just as wicked and perverted as we now view racism.

Here is an example of the depravity I am referring to. It is the Center for Immigration Studies’ Mark Krikorian, writing shortly after the earthquake in Haiti, explaining why the United States should not allow in more Haitian refugees:

Krikorian: The impact on the job prospects of the less-skilled American workers that additional Haitians would be competing with in an environment of widespread unemployment is a matter of indifference to those whose main concern is the well-being of the foreign country rather than of the people whose interests they are supposed to be pursuing. In short, the place to help Haitians is in Haiti, not the United States.

I’m curious to know what my readers think, so I’ve made a poll with what I believe are the leading contenders for “currently common attitude most likely to offend the sensibilities of future generations.”

If I’ve left off an important one, feel free to share your own in the comments section.

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5 Responses to “Looking back on 2010, in 200 years”

  1. ATurner Says:

    Gays/Lesbians/Medical Marijuana prejudices may be eliminated first, but the idea of “foreigners” is the most likely to be eliminated and offend (more than the former prejudices) the sensibilities of people in the future, I agree.

  2. DM Says:

    Anyone think we’ll be in space yet? Colonizing the moon and Mars perhaps?

  3. Andy Hallman Says:

    @DM

    Yes, I think further space exploration is likely, but I think colonies on the moon is too optimistic, even for 2200. Looking back on science fiction literature from the past 100 years, there has been a tendency to overestimate the rate of technological progress in future generations (Can we say the same about moral “progress”?).

    Example: It’s 2010 and there are still no flying cars.

  4. David Says:

    200 years is a long time. Hard to say. Maybe they will be horrified at how liberal we are, what with our tolerant attitudes being responsible for bringing down God’s wrath in 2012. I guess I will go with attitudes and laws concerning gays/lesbians because they seem most similar to racism, which is what I guess horrifies us most about the US 200 years ago.

    Or what does horrify people most about the US 200 years ago? It would be slavery, right? Or the destruction of American Indians? Or the suppression of women? Or the lack of medical knowledge? Child labor?

  5. Andy Hallman Says:

    Or what does horrify people most about the US 200 years ago? It would be slavery, right?

    I’d say that’s what horrifies people the most. Whenever the discussion turns to how great the US was in 1789, someone in the group always has to mention slavery (what a party-pooper!). However, I’d say that the treatment of American Indians is arguably worse than the treatment of slaves, although I’m not an expert on that period in history.

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