Written By Zara Greene - 24, Zara calls Brooklyn home and after studying Political Science at NYU, she has worked as a marketing consultant and campaign strategist. You'll always see her carrying around a new book and some coffee. She's one of the main content contributors to Novakono.
When I was younger, the first few years of history class tended to gloss over most of the interesting parts, leaving only a paragraph or two for each of the big players: Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, etc. What did I expect, we can’t teach kids all of history, we need to pack each era into small bites. Here’s the question though: What will America’s paragraph read like? From the hundreds of years of American progress, what will be considered our crowning achievement by future civilizations.
It is, of course, difficult to predict your legacy while you’re still making it; I doubt the Egyptians would’ve thought the most known Pharaohs would be King Tut and Cleopatra. If anything, a declining empire’s history is written by its successors. History likes to focus on why empire’s fail more than why they succeed; the overexpansion of the Romans, the inferior military of the Egyptians, etc. Whatever causes the eventual downfall of the United States, whether it be an aging population or the creation of a welfare state, will be taught to students as a cautionary tale.
In all likelihood, there are only three ways Americans will be described as in the future: Soldiers, Entertainers, and Explorers.
The strength of future militaries will be compared to our own; the expansive reach of the US military is the largest on Earth. From conflicts in South America to the Middle East and Asia, the US has always thrived during wartime, gaining much of its power from the aftermath of World War II. By much of the world today our country is seen as democratic invaders; bringing a message of freedom and democracy while still firmly holding our weapons. In this way, our country has shaped the world drastically; influencing both the progress of technology and the equivalent sizes of foreign militaries. As of yet, the US is the only country to ever use a nuclear weapon in wartime. Even if the record is broken in the future, the role those first two nukes played in the Earth's history will resonate with future humans for centuries. From our Revolution to the ongoing war in the Middle East against terrorist organizations, the US chooses to fight because for the time being we see ourselves as the world's last defense.
I was recently in France this past summer and, despite being thousands of miles away from home, I was surrounded by posters for an upcoming film, Paper Towns. The new world of shared culture we’re all adjusting to is an odd one; America has led the crusade to create a similar global experience everyone can relate to. Americans love distraction; sports, music, movies, really anything that's fun. In the same way the Caesars built stadiums to keep the Romans happy; the US government strongly encouraged consumerism and promoted the idea of increased relaxation. With all of this new free time and the expectation to spend your income on "fun", the US created a massive entertainment industry.
Columbus, Lewis & Clark, Neil Armstrong; all of these names are known by children as young as six in the US because the idea of exploration is highly praised in our culture. The name of the first American to walk on Mars will, no doubt, also make the list. We understand the importance of discovering new frontiers. The first waves of American settlers built the foundation for what would later become the United States. Even if Christopher Columbus and Lewis & Clark fade into more obscure histories, America’s role in the space race and moon landing will survive for millennia.The unexpected leap forward in technology developed from WW2 weapons research fueled a century of science and exploration paving the way for the rest of space travel. Even after the names of Washington and Jefferson and Obama are forgotten, Armstrong's will survive. Despite originating from a political rivalry, the race to the moon was the greatest achievement our country has ever accomplished.
What do you think? Will we be remembered as soldiers, entertainers, or explorers? Ultimately, only time will tell; I hope it tells the truth.
Images: 1. By English: Sgt. Brandon D. Bolick, U.S. Army (www.defense.gov) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 2. "Scott Gives Salute - GPN-2000-001114" by NASA James B. Irwin - Great Images in NASA Description, NASA photo AS15-88-11863