Monday, February 18, 2013

The Future of Love

For some reason, on the way home from the Escape from Planet Earth movie (fun, not great), my family got on the topic of how long the Earth might have left to exist. My older son posited "maybe a few billion years."

"Long enough for us, anyway," I said.

"Yeah," said my son. "But what about our ancestors?" (He meant descendants.)

This got me thinking, though. Does anyone really care about his descendants?

From Fritz Lang's Metropolis
Outside of our grandchildren or maybe our great-grandchildren, how connected can we feel to the generations of our families to come? How much can we truly care for them?

The science fiction part of me looks at it this way: Parental and grand-parental love is automatic, as far as I can see. Most people agree on this, I think. For me and most of the parents I know, the birth of my children was like the throwing on of a switch: instant love. My parents and other grandparents I know have said that it was the same for them upon meeting the grandbabies.

What if we were able to travel forward in time and to meet our great, great, great, etc. grandchildren? Would we love them, deeply and automatically? Seems to me, we would. I don't see why not, considering that we appear to be biologically programmed that way.

If so, I suppose we ought to be concerned about what sort of a world we leave our descendants...if we leave them one at all.


  1. This could be a stretch, but here it goes. There are parts of science and theology that suggest we are all one and came from the same source. One single atom, multiplying and growing exponentially through the course of billions of years, evolving and learning. So, in this sense, aren't we all connected? Shouldn't I feel just as much connection to the kid that sits in front of me in class as I would if I was shown one of my great grandchildren? I expect the feeling of connection to be stronger with my children and grandchildren because, like you said, they're tangible. I made them, I played my role as a human being and this is the reaction. He or she might have my eyes or my nose, and I can see my virtues carried on through them. But, through time and natural selection, my descendants will barely resemble me, won't know my name or what I was like or even recognize that I was a link in the chain that led to their existence. In this sense, we are all connected and disconnected at the same time. We have all shared the same ancestry at some point, but I do not always recognize this when I meet a stranger. I believe that meeting one of my far descendants would be similar. I wish I could explain my thought process a little clearer, sorry for all the rambling.

    1. That was plenty clear, Joe. I think you nailed down the conflict I'm referencing. I guess it comes down to the difference between a natural occurance of feelings of connection and the need to intellectually conjure them. If the theory you mention is true, based on the lack of empathy we humans seem to show to each other, I guess the answer is that there is a possibility that we would not feel the love of out descendents, had we the chance to meet them... Interesting. Thanks for commenting!