I recently had the opportunity to participate in the Communications department project titled “Forget Me Never.” This is part of an initiative to record the knowledge, experience, and lives of the elderly in the US. I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Helen Faulkner for my part. Helen was a little shy about the whole process, not being entirely certain that anyone would care to look back on her life.
Living in a digital age, it seems that one huge power outage could wipe out history’s memory of us. I look back on an image of Francis Schaeffer standing in front of an ancient Roman bridge, trying to piece together their way of life. When I picture something like the Golden Gate Bridge decaying in time, I wonder what people might say about us in the future. Will we have left enough clues behind for our ancient civilization to be pieced together? If history has taught us anything, it is that nothing lasts forever. It can be difficult to imagine the society we live in disappearing into the past, but I am sure many Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians felt the same way.
It is sad to say that memories are not forever. But wisdom can travel across time and influence the the direction of future civilizations. Maybe someone three thousand years from now will not look back at Helen’s video. Though, if we pass on the wisdom of those who go before us, do we not keep their memory alive already? Do they not continue contributing to humanity?
For the record: Helen’s life is worth examining.