It’s easy to think other people’s opinions are wrong. Especially when you have your own and you believe it wholeheartedly. That’s why, as we discussed collapse in the past lessons, I didn’t want to cut off other peoples’ thinking. I know that we had several discussions in small groups and even though everyone in my immediate group agreed on the same idea, I knew others might have a different answer or a different insight on the topic. I wanted to hear where the people were coming from when they had a different opinion. Maybe I was missing something or didn’t think of it as thoroughly as they had. I got even more to think about after open discussion. I’m glad the class had several different opinions in all aspects because it gave a demonstration of how wicked problems happen in today’s society. Not everyone will see something the same or people will have different exposures to something. It gives uniqueness to a situation that calls us to address it in a certain way. Wicked problems as we learned, are not finite. They are not solved with one answer or solution. It calls for many different experiences, ideas, and contributions and even then not be completely “fixed”.
After this topic was covered, I had many things to think about. I had never really thought of collapse societies in this context. I knew there were great societies that fell, like the Roman Empire, the Inca Empire, etc. The things and topics the education systems were required to teach in basic history classes. Things that we went over, reviewed, and on tests asked what happened to them or what they were like in their primes. They never asked or taught us HOW or WHY they had fallen the way they did. Not how we learned in this class now. It was a bimp of information that was stored in the back of my mind, only coming back up if I was watching “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?” or trivia nights.
I never understood what truly happened to Easter Island either, so this whole lesson was both enlightening and frightening to me. It was scary how in hindsight everything was so clear. How could they not understand the danger they were in by the damage they were doing to their environment? If they were truly so advanced then they should have known.
But then I think of our society now and we are the most advanced generations and we’re only going farther and faster that anyone could ever imagine. But Easter Island and the world today are so similar. It gave me a new fear for the world, if a whole culture could be wiped out like that, what is going to happen to us now? I hear of all the approaches taken to combat deforestation, climate change, and preserving resources, but eventually, we might become like Easter Island. With overturned national monuments we used to hold so high, letting future historians wonder why we used so many resources on things of veneration.
This lesson gave me many things to think about and things to apply to the future. History is meant to teach us so that it can be avoided and not repeated again, and seeing the collapse of Easter Island, and seeing how our society is slowly (but not slow enough) following the same route, it’s easier to think about what they could have done hundreds of years ago, and then apply it to current times, rather than take wild blind swings towards trying to figure out what to do now. It is easy to learn from past mistakes, and for that I am grateful for the lesson that Easter Island is giving us.