Friday, November 14, 2014

Future Prep

Like so many of you, I worry about the coming apocalypse. This would be the one that stands in stark contrast to the one that has already occurred. As a homeowner in an earthquake zone, I know how to shut off the gas, and my wife has already divined the secret potential of sawdust toilets. My son and I have read Cormac McCarthy's "The Road," and I sat through the movie. On a related note, my wife and I have made a study of every episode of "The Walking Dead," critiquing the various approaches to life after the zombies show up. My son has a zombie plan for each and every locale he finds himself in, with the intent of never being at a loss for how escape with his brains intact and uneaten. And still there's this nagging voice in the back of my head that says I haven't done enough.
What am I going to do when the race of super-intelligent apes take charge? When I was a kid, the looming threat of nuclear annihilation was flavored with just a touch of what could only be labeled "hope." In a particular corner of the world's imagination, the survivors of such an exchange of thermonuclear weapons would have left pockets of humanity alive, and those lucky enough to be left alive would eventually devolve into loincloth wearing animals hunted for sport by the aforementioned super-intelligent apes. Lucky them. But that was just one reading of the future. Off another exit on that timeline was the possibility of a more cooperative version of the future where humans who accepted the fact that they had been responsible for most of the rotten things that had eventually given rise to the Planet of the Apes were allowed to hang with the chimps and orangutans in charge. The gorillas weren't having any of that, but you never could negotiate with a gorilla. I spent enough time in my youth imagining cohabitation with super-intelligent apes that the thought doesn't give me much pause. What does concern me is how I might be perceived by the simian and human community around me. How would I contribute to this new society and not end up stuffed in some museum?
I'm a teacher, right? Someone has to teach all those little apes how to read and write. I would have to make sure that I kept my credential current, and I did all that I could to consider the special needs of my students. I would encourage my ape overlords to remember the lessons of Brown v. the Board of Education, and try to keep my classroom a representative mix of human and super-intelligent ape. And mostly I would try not to teach them everything I know, at least not right away. That way I remain useful to them, and become less likely to end up on the experimental lobotomy list. I think for I'll hold on to that sawdust toilet technology for a good long while.

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