History – Gone in a instant.

IMGP0820A recent event in a neighbouring village suddenly thrust to the front of my mind a though I have had in the back of my head for sometime. In the historic village of Ilchester in Somerset, the Market Cross which has stood since 1795, was destroyed in seconds by an allegedly drunken driver. Hopefully it can be restored but only time will tell.

The incident however does illustrate how fragile and transient in nature historical objects are. Once they are gone, they are gone forever and can never be replaced. As much as mankind may seek to protect ancient artefacts and buildings, it is a war that is gradually being lost in the passage of time as catastrophes like fire, earthquakes, accidents, natural weathering or even wanton destruction by extremist groups with warped ideologies as happened at Palmyra in Syria, gradually take their toll on ancient structures.

IMGP4042I suppose in some ways, the knowledge of historical events is far more enduring than physical objects, but again that is reliant in those who are interested in preserving that knowledge. As time passes, events that were of great importance to the people who lived through them, can become increasingly less important in the perception of future generations. Events that happened say two thousand or more years ago with Mediterranean rulers and  armies establishing Empires through conquest and the like are still of interest today, but are not of the same importance to the current generation as those who lived through and experienced those times.

One cannot help but wonder if the human race survives for say another 100,000 years, what importance or interest, if any, our current world events will be to that very remote future generation? In one hundred millenniums time, in such a future generations perception of the past, they would probably consider us to be much closer to the ancient Romans than we do ourselves. Our current world is still heavily influenced by the events of the two Great Wars, but to far distant generations, they might not be more than interesting points to note, like grains of sand on the beach, in the great tide of history that has yet to be created between now and 100 millenniums in the future.

It it also quite probable that just as the great empires of the past have vanished, the great nations of today will also have vanished or changed into something unrecognisably different. Human aspirations and needs are always something of a constant great melting-pot of change, and political thoughts and divisions have always been a great driving force for internal change within countries. As the saying goes, ‘Nothing is forever’.

I cannot help but speculate that if time travel were possible, (and I do not believe it is), and those distant future generations could be visited to be asked what they thought about the UK’s struggles in leaving the E.C. or Russia and the USA being at constant loggerheads with each other, the ego-deflating response would likely be one of, “Who”.

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