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February 22, 2014

Josh Drespling: What if you could travel back in time?

NEW CASTLE — Have you ever encountered a point in your life where you dreamed about having the ability to travel in time?

Whether it be in a clunky machine filled with levers, whistles, and buttons or something sleek, the concept is remains the same. You could transcend the present and escape into another moment at your every whim. You could move about the past and the future at will and discover many magnificent things. The amount of knowledge and insight you could gain is overwhelming and much more than any mere human could consume in just one lifetime.

You imagine your travels and witnessing history. You would have the ability to behold such grandiose events as the signing of the Declaration of Independence, World Series victories, or even relive the birth of your own children. Peering through the window of time would give you a unique vantage point to these historical acts. You have the opportunity to become a great spectator of the events that have placed us where we are today. Events that have shaped our planet, our race, and our future.

Would you be able to visit these times merely as a tourist, or would something compel you to interact? Perhaps something small. Something to create a better and much richer life for yourself and your family. You gaze into the void of “what if” as you ponder how things could have or should have been different. You contemplate the possibilities of different life decisions and paths taken. You bounce between stock market picks, bettering the odds on the Super Bowl upset, or even being the first to invent some earth-changing technology like Google.

Soon your mind migrates from your own well-being, and your thoughts turn to how you could alter history for the better. You imagine preventing JFK's assassination, stopping the horrors of 9/11, or bringing about the elimination of Hitler. If you, in fact, had the opportunity to remedy these situations, would you not be obligated to fix each and every one of them? Would it not be your duty as a human to correct these atrocities and help your fellow man, if given the opportunity?

Soon you are torn between your responsibility to your race and the deterministic laws of nature. Knowing full well that undoing such a major event in time would have an earth-shattering waterfall effect on future civilization and the planet as a whole, yet you feel obligated to do something. Above all, who’s to say that your fix would create a better and more positive present? Time and space have such a high sensitivity to initial conditions that there is an amazing possibility that you could destroy the entire fabric that binds the life we know and love.

To add more pressure and stress to your situation, ponder the possibility that the life you are currently living is one that has been previously altered by some time-traveling pioneer. This traveler who, despite his good intentions, has thrown the world into its current state of flux. In his efforts to avoid some unknown barbarity, he laid the framework for new and greater evil to rear its ugly head.  It is quite possible that his decisions have unwittingly destroyed future civilization, medical discoveries, and awe-inspiring scientific innovations.

But alas, time travel is but a fantasy and an unachievable scientific myth. However, it does offer some interesting moral compass situations to help gauge what is important to you. I personally would avoid all the chances for destruction and simply incorporate my own time machine into my alarm clock, so that every time I hit the snooze button it transported me back 15 minutes. I then could capture those extra few moments of precious sleep.

There couldn’t be any harm in that, could there?

 

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