Most of us are aware at least vaguely, of Rome; an empire some two thousand years in our past. We marvel at its running water, supplied by aqueducts. At its six story apartments, its fast food joints, paved streets and underground sewers. At its radiant heating. How can all these be two thousand years old? What does that say about us?
Many fewer of us are aware of Mohenjo-Daro. It was a fired brick (not mud brick) city in the Indus valley. It was laid out on a planned grid, with paved streets, indoor bathrooms and underground sewers. We don’t know who built it and lived in it because it was at least two thousand years old when Rome was an Empire. In that light, Roman accomplishments seem less impressive.
The real question then, should not be how the Romans attained so much, but rather: How did it take us so long to attain so little more? In 1910, only 12% of American homes had bathrooms, though they were then over four thousand years old.
We have a theory about that. We all know that mighty empires have appeared and then disappeared in human history. Any of us who have been parents know that teenagers reject painfully acquired parental experience in favor of their own desires. That is needed if our children are to attain adult independence.
We know too that our children will make mistakes as they exercise their growing adulthood. We did that before them. But it is necessary if they are to stand on their own feet in future.Those mistakes of ignorance are a price our species pays in order to build a new generation, a new future.
And those mistakes also provide the wherewithal that founds that new future. They are blasting powder that frees our descendants of the fetters of a preceding society.
There are no guarantees; many new societies are stillborn, which may explain the four or five thousand years between Mohenjo-Daro and us. But nevertheless, here we finally are, marveling at the ruins pf Mohenjo-Daro.
It seems clear that we are disassembling our Christian Western society. To those of us with accumulated experience and historical knowledge, it seems pure destruction that our young are waging against what we have made. They are the new iconoclasts.
But we cannot see what will, eventually, be the result of that destruction. If history is a guide, seeing it, we would not understand it. But as with all parents, it is not given to us to live in the world of our children.
We have made an imperfect world; so will they; we are the same species. But as today has improved upon Mohenjo-Daro, let alone Rome, we can hope that our childrenss’ world will be better than ours, at least eventually, That has been our pattern, after all.
Of course, there are no guarantees: Mohenjo-Daro ruins are today, crumbling from neglect in Pakistan. Whoever or however one sees our origin, there is humor involved …