By Wil Forbis
You think you're a good person? You think because you recycle, pet your dog once a day and donate 5% of your income to charitable causes then the heavens must smile upon you? Well I've got news for you. Thomas Jefferson thought he was a good person. Richard the Lion Hearted thought he was a good person. Alexander the Great thought he was a good person. And now we think of them as slave owning, gay hating, women oppressing douche bags.
Why is this? It has to do with mankind's constantly evolving sense of what is moral. What used to be acceptable 2000, 1000, 500, or even 200 years ago is now condemned as fatuous and corrupt. Our notions of right and wrong are ever shifting, our definitions of rights are ever expanding. This can lead you to only one realization: human beings 200 years from now will judge you as a heartless amoral bastard.
One of the first instances of codified morality --- the code of Hammurabi, written around 1760 B.C. --- offered legal protections that would be judged comically inadequate by today's standards. Jumping forward 3000 years we arrive at the Magna Carta, which got a little better, encoding the notion of the right to appeal against unjust punishment into law. Moving forward to the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution, people finally settled on the notion of inalienable rights, like the right to own property or protection from unjust taxation. Today, the theory of rights is an ever expanding area. Civil rights, gay rights, children's rights, renter's rights, worker's rights... whatever you think of them, however obvious they may seem, they are concepts that would seem largely foreign to the people of yesteryear. It seems patently obvious to most thinking humans of the modern era that slavery is wrong. It's insane to suppose that one person can own another person. However, 150 years ago there were plenty of intelligent, cultured people throughout the world unto which this notion had not taken hold. The idea that they could wake up, command their slaves to toil and indeed violently punish them if these slaves failed to satisfy seemed entirely reasonable.
By studying the past, and gaining a sense of the evolution of morality, perhaps we can intuit where it is headed. I've long felt that there will be a wide expansion of animal-rights in the coming centuries. As animals are revealed to be more and more intelligent and emotive, and as the possibility of "growing meat" becomes reality, there will be increased pressure on the meat industry to soften its ways, or even dissolve completely. (The Spanish government is even currently debating vastly increased legal protections for gorillas.) And some scientists are already arguing that plants have an emotional life, so plant rights may not be far behind. Of course many a science fiction author has painted futuristic scenarios where pieces of technology -- computers and robots -- demand protection under the law. And in this future era, they will look back at citizens of our age --- meat eating, gardening, robot abusing bastards --- and be shocked at our cruelty much the same way we are appalled at the behavior of slave owning aristocrats of the 1800s.
And with all this said, I think it's quite reasonable to assume that in the future the reins of the world government will be handed over to a species of super intelligent gorillas who will rule with a fair and just paw. And it's also quite possible that these gorillas will develop time travel in order to go back into the past and apprehend moral criminals. Imagine yourself seated in a darkened tribunal, surrounded by 12 super intelligent gorillas who have just kidnapped you and taken you into the future. The prosecutorial gorilla might say, "we hereby charge (Your Name Here) with crimes against all known morality. And we hereby demand that (Your Name Here) be placed in a detention cell for 20 years and forced to eat their own feces." And the judicial gorilla will nod his head sagely and say, "Make it so."
You don't feel like such a good person now, do you?
Hey! What's that moving in the corner of your eye? Is it a super intelligent gorilla who's traveled from the future to take you to a secret tribunal where you will be forced to eat your own feces?
No, it's just your cat.
This time...Wil Forbis is a well known international playboy who lives a fast paced life attending chic parties, performing feats of derring-do and making love to the world's most beautiful women. Together with his partner, Scrotum-Boy, he is making the world safe for democracy. Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit Wil's web log, The Wil Forbis Blog, and receive complete enlightenment.