Students enrolled in Professor Amy Sage Webb’s Honor’s Program Seminar class were asked to write letters to their future counterparts in the year 3001 to describe what life at Emporia State is like now and what their hopes, fears and predictions for the future are. Webb is a professor of English and co-director of the creative writing program. The following is a sample of what the students had to say:
I believe in being frank when beginning this letter, thus treating you with the intellectual equivalence you deserve. Honestly, this letter is an assignment, and I have found a way to do it whilst multitasking, which can be quite common for any college student.
In one of my classes, an honors seminar entitled “The Future and Apocalypse,” we have been discussing the role of the story and how it affects the way we think. For instance, the stories we tell about and to ourselves often shape how we see ourselves and who we are. I hope that the stories I tell are not vain, futile or overall damaging. However, I am, in one way of thinking, not a master of my own fate; there is only so much I can achieve on my own, thus my future is dependent upon society as well as myself.
The thing that is most influential in my outcome is my own attitude. Every day I try to live without regrets, find some small piece of joy in which to marvel, smile at least once and laugh as though I need laughter to breathe. With this mindset, it is easy to say that the future is a blank canvas, and I am but a painter. The opportunity is mine to help direct society, which, in turn, influences my outcome, much like reflective surfaces can be used to redirect light, either increasing or decreasing the brightness of a room.
Right now, I am young, only 19 years old, but I want to live life fiercely, arms open, embracing, fearless. However, fear is an obstacle which, at times, can be insurmountable whilst being conquerable. One of my greatest fears is that I will not reach my full potential, that I will fall short, that I will be relegated to being a happy wife and doting mother. I want to be a scientist, and yet, right now, I feel so aimless, stuck between the world of chemistry and physics. I do so very much long to be able to take the universe apart, to understand the how and why of everything we see. I want to know, and the thought that I may be cut off from knowledge chills me to the core.
If you do anything, I beg of you this – do not let knowledge die. There is truth in this world, and so often it is blotted out, erased from the memory of man, silenced and reworded by the power hungry. Corruption is not new, and yet, everything is inherently corrupted and distorted in our own thinking. However, it is not sane to not think, for thoughtlessness is the bane of the human race. For all of our free thinking, we live too much in a cage, bound in the binary, tied to the heretical stake and our secrets are the nightmares that we keep – alive, hidden in our pockets.
I would not presume to give you advice, as I am young myself, but I urge you to be human, to be real, to allow yourself to be flawed. Embrace your nuances, wear your scars with dignity because they tell the story of you – the story that only you can tell. Without your imperfections, you are faceless, a simple statistic, a name in a crowd. Be not superficial. Proclaim your family name with pride, for they are the ones who touch you and hold you close when no one else would dare. And if you have no family name, you have a family still, that family which you choose, that name which you give. Proclaim it above the crowd. Be the voice of reason; you may dissent, but only speak the truth so that your enemies may only prove you blameless.
Do your best in all things, this is all that I can ask, and that is what I will do. I know you depend upon me just as much as I depend upon my ancestors. Everyone factors into the grand equation of life, and no one leaves without being a catalyst or forming a product. Therefore, I give my hope to you; my optimism and my courage will not be without result, wither though I may.
I will not apologize for what may be my shortcomings, my faults, my mistakes that hurt you, for I have no measure as to what the future can hold, or what the future will hold, and neither do you.
*Jenni is a freshman at ESU studying chemistry.
My name is Megan Cronk, and I am a sophomore studying elementary education in the year 2012. Today is Sept. 19. Living in the year 3000, I am sure that many things are much different than they are here, but I am just as sure that many things are the same as they are here.
For example, in the year 2012, many people believe the world will end Dec. 21. I know, right? You must be thinking how stupid we are. Your generation probably believes that the end of the world is coming soon for you. I think this much could be said about every generation. I know my grandparents’ generation thought they were in the end times, my generation thinks it’s in the end times and I’m sure my grandchildren’s generation will think they are in the end times.
It’s cyclical; everyone thinks the end of the world is coming for them. What they don’t realize is that after every fall our world has had, it has always risen back up. I’m sure it is the same for your generation, unless you’re being attacked by aliens. We don’t have aliens in this generation, so if you have them, you’re probably screwed.
As I am typing this letter on my laptop, a few thoughts come to my mind. 1. Do you have laptops in the year 3000, or have you gotten rid of the written English language all together? If you have gotten rid of the written English language, how are you reading this right now? 2. Do you find it odd to be reading the writings of a dead person? I mean, I’m sure you all read Shakespeare still, right? I never thought it was weird to read his writings, even though he’s dead, but I wonder if he thought about people reading his works once he passed on. I find it rather odd writing this letter knowing that it won’t be read until I am very well dead.
After typing these questions, another thought enters my mind. Why am I writing these questions? I won’t be alive to hear the answers. I suppose if you have figured out time travel by the year 3000, you will be able to come back in time to visit me and let me know the answers to my questions. I wonder if you look on us like we look onto those who lived on the prairie in the late 1800s, like people who were crazy and had no idea what they were missing. Sometimes, I feel like I would love to live in those simpler times, away from all the rush and craziness. Do you feel the same?
I am positive that the future is bright. I am sure that global warming hasn’t ruined our planet (did you learn about that in a history book?). I am sure that the ozone layer as also held up and that you still have plenty of oil to use, if you even still have any need for it. I am sure that the recession we are going through now seems like a small matter to you then, or whether Mitt Romney or Barack Obama will be the next president – do you still have presidents? Perhaps we seem barbaric to you as those from 1,000 years ago seem ferocious to us.
Here’s to you and your generation, and another generation 1,000 years from where you stand.
*Megan is a sophomore at ESU studying elementary education.
My name is T.J. Huettenmueller, and I am a freshman mathematics major currently attending Emporia State University, like yourself, in the year 2012. Right now, the United States has fallen upon some rough times, not just with the economy being terrible, but also with the quality of people who are living in America. Some would say the end of the world is upon us; however, if you are reading this, it most certainly did not.
We have had many apocalyptic scares within the last century. The most recent being one that has not happened yet – the end of the Mayan calendar on Dec. 21 of this year. Nevertheless, much like previous predictions, I believe this one to be false as well. You should know all about failed predictions, though, as long as history has repeated itself.
On the anniversary of the first millennium after Christ, the Christian inhabitants of this earth were all scared by the book of Revelation, which predicted the second coming of Jesus 1000 years after his death. On the occasion of the second millennium, the major scare to everybody dealt with newfound technology and its incapacity to compensate for the changing of years. If history repeated itself in the year 3000, you just got through an apocalyptic scare yourself, although, it, like the other two, proved false.
Although none of these apocalypses have come to be, the way our future is looking now would leave me surprised if humanity lasts long enough for anyone to read this letter. We are in the midst of a heated presidential election between two candidates who, frankly, do not seem fit to do the job. This is happening at the same time as a crisis in the Middle East, one in which an ambassador has already been killed. If we do not do something soon, I believe a full-out war will occur, which, with the technology for a nuclear bomb becoming more readily available, could spell disaster for the entire world.
On the other hand, if you are reading this, I must be completely wrong, so congratulations! Enjoy your time at Emporia State; so far, it has been a blast for me. We are celebrating the 150th anniversary of its founding this year, and soon you will celebrate the 1,150th anniversary.
Don’t get caught up in the apocalypse theories and predictions. If you have made it this far, you should not have much to worry about.
*T.J. is a freshman at ESU studying mathematics.
I live in a fairly peaceful era. I’m sure you will laugh when you read that – either because you’ve seen several world wars, rebellions and violent governmental changes in your time and are laughing at how blind I am to their impeding inevitability, or because the age you live in is much more peaceful than mine, and, by comparison, we look like a bunch of arguing Neanderthals incapable of making tangible change.
Technology seems to be this generation’s defining feature. Social media is a force to be reckoned with – we use the World Wide Web, an international database accessed through our computers, to log onto websites that connect us with other people around the world. We share photographs, concerns, thoughts, games and cultures. We live our lives as much online as we do in person. Despite the predictions of many, I do not believe these technologies are inherently responsible for making us less intelligent, and I do not believe that these technologies will ever try to take over the world. I believe they may be able to replace humans in a majority of manufacturing and machinery jobs. I believe as a result of this, the population of the globe at your time will either be the same as mine or less because most families will not see reason to have more than one or two children.
I encourage you not to fear the unknown, not to fear the end of humanity and not to fear your own death. If humanity is meant to end, it will. At the end of the day, you determine what each day has been worth to you, and that’s all you can do. If you do know that the end is coming, which I would advise you to be hesitant to believe, keep living and improving the human race in the time you have left. You want whatever comes next to admire the gusto with which our species left this planet.
Now for my predictions. These will probably be the most fascinating and most absurd parts of this letter:
- The United Nations will be replaced by some other form of international governance; this new organization will have a more concrete power.
- Countries will start to come together; we will no longer have countries separating as we did after the breakup of the Soviet Union. South America will only have a few countries instead of its current 12. Ireland will have broken away from the United Kingdom at some point over the next 1,000 years, but, ultimately, European Nations may have come together in fewer countries as well (the European Union will not have survived to your period). Africa will contain few nations.
- People will not write very often. Instead, they will use voice control and have ways to turn thoughts into words.
- There will be ways to save memories so that people may re-watch them like videos.
- Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism will still be the primary religions in the world.
- Physical books will be obsolete.
- Higher education will be assumed, and most students will be forced to earn their degrees beyond high school. Of course, by this period you will have other terms for the schools you attend. You will attend at least 15-17 years of schooling as opposed to the 13 presently required.
- You will still have to study the Greeks and Romans.
- You will not be dependent on physical money, and money may be easier to spend around the globe than it is now. Currently, we have to exchange your currency between each country.
- Physical photographs will be nearly obsolete, save for those that are kept as art.
- Human genetic engineering, on at least a basic scale, will be commonplace. Couples may come before impregnation to have eggs and sperm scanned to find the healthiest and strongest of each.
Those may be boring predictions, but it’s the best I’ve got. I’m sorry I can’t predict any great disease outbreaks that will sweep away half the globe’s population and am not living in constant fear of a nuclear attack from all angles of the globe. I hope that life and the world is doing well in your hands, and I hope that no matter what your teachers tell you about all of us being dumb and simple, you will understand that a majority of us are humbly living our lives and doing the best with what we have.
Anna Marie Zimmerman
*Anna is a freshman at ESU studying communication and business administration.