Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Many Worlds, One Planet

I read a book once that changed my perspective on life, as great books are bound to do. An old, very geeky text, Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings started as a class project to retrofit ancient map fragments to actual geographical landmarks and features and determine the system of coordinates used to make the maps. It was an unlikely place to derive spiritual wisdom. But as they say, when the student is ready, the teacher will come.

While the premise of the book itself was rattling enough, that these ancient maps proved the existence of an advanced civilation who could navigate the seas with mathematical precision during the Ice Age, the part that has remained with me was the general givenness of the conclusion. Of Course They Existed, Why Wouldn't They Have?

We consider ourselves, the First World inhabitants of planet Earth in 2007, as the humans that evolved in intelligence through a building block process that eliminates the possibility of more highly advanced civilizations before us. We write off the existence of the Pyramids for example as some forgotten trick of balancing and moving heavy objects, or as something anyone could do with a large enough forced work team.

But Sea Kings pointed out that at any time in the history of the planet, there have co-existed civilizations of vastly different technological ability. Even right now, at this very moment, there exist Aborigines, Amish, tribes who know nothing of electricity, indigenous cultures who live as they have for hundreds of years, religious sects who follow beliefs that set them far apart from what is considered mainstream.

If you are reading this, you are probably comfortable with technology. But imagine, you could be alive right now, your same age, and be in an entirely different world. You could be driving a horse drawn carriage to your neighbor's house for the barn raising. You could be sleeping on a grass mat under the jungle canopy. You could never have seen television or a light bulb. You could be hunting your dinner with a spear, and not for sport.

Is it so far removed to consider the circular, rather than linear, nature of time? That history repeats itself not because we are unable to learn from our mistakes, but because another group of students is ready to enter the classroom. The lesser advanced civilizations need their opportunity to develop themselves.

Is it so hard to imagine a civilization that existed, with an apparently recorded history, that was wiped out by a geological catastrophe? Do you think they knew it was coming too?

Thanks to Andrew Edgington, this week's winner of Wildcard Wednesday photo carnival and the administrator of the excellent blog Edit Your Digital Photos, for submitting the photo at top. Andrew's blog teaches how to use Photoshop to give your photos an Old-time look, and many other tips.

No comments: