REFLECTIONS: IN A THOUSAND YEARS OR SO
AUTHOR Teresita Bacani-Oropilla, MD
ravel, defined as “to go from one place
to another,” has been Homo sapiens’
vocation and avocation since we in-
habited this earth. Our tracks can be
traced by the things we left behind in
wandering, and where we settled. The
beautiful paintings of animals in the
caves of Lascaux, done around 17,000 years
ago, show an intelligent people who documented their environment
with art, then moved on. The ruins of the Parthenon and temples
in Greece tell of the heights of architecture and culture the citizens
attained. Such too is the Colosseum in Rome, linked to Emperor
Nero and the cruel sports he indulged in. reach all corners of earth? A budding system of space travel which
by then will be ancient? What will they make of Mount Rushmore’s
faces? Will they find ruins of railroads, mines, windmills and pipes
that transport oil from one place to another? Will there still be jun-
gles and water basins, glaciers and snowcapped mountains to climb?
Pompeii was completely covered by ash and pumice in the
eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79. When rediscovered, it
showed the people’s daily lives and mosaics revealed their beliefs,
entertainment and their standards of morality (compared to ours). By necessity, we travel in our business of life. We also do so for
pleasure and knowledge. By knowing more about our neighbors,
their history, circumstances and aspirations, and by comparison,
we get to know ourselves better.
On our side of the Atlantic, the temples and cities of the Incas
of Peru show a highly organized and structured civilization. In
northern Africa, the exhibits from the Pharaohs’ tombs in Egypt
tell of a culture we cannot even comprehend in richness and pomp,
and of the strict stratification of that society. Are we doing justice to ourselves? In a thousand years, or two,
or three, or more, will people of the future think kindly of us by
the things we left behind?
A thousand years or two from now, what are we leaving behind
to tell our tale? Will they know we had skyscrapers and which was
the tallest in the world? A system of communication that aimed to
Will there be a legible record of our times like the hieroglyphs
of Egypt, that we did make progress in ameliorating or eradicating
illness that plagued the world – HIV, polio, tuberculosis, leprosy,
malaria, so the next generation would flourish? Will they under-
stand our beliefs and how they were morphing: will these coincide
with theirs? Will they think of us as a happy prosperous people
with ideals to pass on to them, or as simpletons/barbarians/killers
of the climate? Will they be content with the legacy we left them?
That is food for thought.
Dr. Bacani-Oropilla is a retired psychiatrist.