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Since the Days When My Great-Grandparents Were Born: An Essay

In his "Writer Without a Clause" articles, Chris writes about whatever is on his mind at the moment without research and without editing.

My Maternal Paternal Great-grandparents

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My great grandparents were born in the 1880s, just fifteen or twenty years after the end of the American Civil War. It is hard to believe, but those 140 years have touched three centuries. I stumble on my response. At first, I wanted to ask what has changed in the world during that time. But what I mean is what hasn’t changed? These societal alterations would stagger my great grandparent’s young minds as the calendar flipped to the twentieth century.

Dresden, Germany, 1945 following the bombing by US bombers

Dresden, Germany, 1945 following the bombing by US bombers

I am interested in the advances humanity has made during those one and one-third centuries. From an American and European perspective, we crushed Hitler and Nazi Germany. Americans dropped the bomb on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, effectively ending the war and the lives of 214,000 Japanese civilians. The Korean Conflict, Vietnam, The Iraq war, Afghanistan, and the war against terror have been efforts to hold back evil dictatorships. While war has on occasion accomplished necessary goals, it is still war, death, and destruction.

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On the brighter side, we have traveled to the Moon and Mars. Through the lens of the Hubble Space Telescope, we have recognized our place among countless galaxies. Scientists produced vaccines that wiped out killer diseases. The reader can add to the list of positive accomplishments.

James webb Space Telescope

Launch date, October 31, 2021

Launch date, October 31, 2021

What will the world be like when your great-grandchildren are your age? That could be 140 years, more or less. What do we want for our descendants? Do we want their lives to consist of wars won and lost? Do we simply want their smartphones to be even smarter? As the James Webb Space Telescope prepares for its October 2021 launch, we must ask, is it enough to advance our cosmological horizon?

Earth lost 28 trillion tonnes of ice between 1994 and 2017, with melting grounded ice raising the global sea level by 34.6 ±3.1 mm. The rate of ice loss has risen by 57% since the 1990s−from 0.8 to 1.2 trillion tonnes per year.

Earth lost 28 trillion tonnes of ice between 1994 and 2017, with melting grounded ice raising the global sea level by 34.6 ±3.1 mm. The rate of ice loss has risen by 57% since the 1990s−from 0.8 to 1.2 trillion tonnes per year.

What about the subjugation of women, poverty, famine, starvation, drought, pandemics, war, murder, and climate change? These are some of the critical concerns of life on Earth with which our offspring must deal. As we reach out to the stars, we will feel less like a border-laden planet and more like a world community. If we ever meet extraterrestrial beings, we will relate to them as citizens of Earth. Global cooperation is our only hope for positively impacting the devastating calamities that plague our world’s citizenry and environments.

Over the next 140 years, I hope my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren participate in applying technology to these critical world issues. This would be a better outcome than more war and the continuing development of new technology that only scratches humankind’s trivial, innate itch for something fun and new.

But how can we influence future generations? Mankind has always communicated its most important information through stories. Oral histories are the stuff of which the record of life and civilizations are made. When we sit around the table during holidays or around the dinner table each evening, we can change the future by molding the minds of our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Even if they are grown, they listen to us. We can recall the positive things we have done and challenge them to insist on a culture and society that are committed to solving the age-old issues of the subjugation of women, poverty, famine, starvation, drought, pandemics, war, murder, and climate change?

My Maternal Maternal Great-grandparents

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The last 140 years since the birth of my great-grandparents have been a period of stasis regarding our social condition. We may have staved off evil dictatorships and progressed technologically, but we have failed to come to terms with the perennial issues that have plagued mankind since the beginning of time. May the generations that follow be more disciplined to focus on the issues that truly matter.

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