Taking Tea in the Kasbah

Last week I resumed the Wednesday “Would You Rather…?” series with this question:

Would you rather be raised by dolphins -OR- wolves?

Of the adventurous readers who responded, two said they would prefer to be raised by dolphins and seven preferred to be raised by wolves. Interestingly, one person opted for a clever dolphin/wolf split based on a summer/academic school year, one person was raised by wild Gypsy Banner horses, and one person claimed to have been raised by both a dolphin and a wolf. And, if that wasn’t fantastic enough, one person sent me a photo of her and her lovely cheetah mother, Irma. I had always suspected readers of the kasbah were an eclcetic, culturally diverse group and the answers (and photo!) to last week’s question definitely supports that.

As for me, I pondered this one off and on all week. I took into account many of the fine reasons for choosing one over the other that were presented in the comments. I consulted Wikipedia and discussed it with the 12 year old. It was a tough one.

By Arnaud 25 via Wikimedia Commons

On the one hand, dolphins are intelligent, graceful and it would be so cool to be raised in the ocean and hang out with fun characters like Nemo or visit people like Sawyer and Jack on their island on Lost. Unfortunately, I am a terrible swimmer, though not for lack of trying. Perhaps they could teach me to be an expert at it?

image credit ~ ucumari via Flickr

On the other hand, wolves are able to run fast and can cover lots of territory, are deeply devoted to their pack, and get to howl at the moon. Travel, loyalty and howling at the moon – all things at the top of my priority list. Sadly, being a vegetarian might prove difficult when living with a bunch of carnivorous kin.

So what did I choose?

Like I said, tough decision.

But in the end, I had to go with the one that would push me to learn and grow in ways I might not otherwise do as a human. And the animals with the greatest capacity to do that for me?

The dolphins.

As much as I enjoy a good moon-howling, I really do want to learn to be a better swimmer. And I think Ma and Pa Dolphin could show me a thing or two that the average swim instructor can’t.

And now, on to this week’s “Would You Rather…?” question:

Assuming you have the long-term goal of improving the world and the power to implement changes all over the world, would you rather:

have the benefit of knowing humankind’s future


have the power to change humankind’s past?

What say you, fine readers? Which option would you choose – knowing the fate of our future or the power to change the past? Sit a while in the kasbah and give it some thought. Then share your answer below. I’d love to hear from you.

16 thoughts on “Wednesday’s “Would You Rather…?” Question: the Past vs. the Future

  1. This one is tougher than the last one. If I know history and believe any of my models for understanding time travel (Back to the Future, Time Traveler’s Wife, Back to the Future II, The Time Machine, Back to the Future III, and of course Hot Tub Time Machine) then I have to remember that changing the past does not always change the future for the better. But, on the other hand these same referral sources have taught me that knowing the future can be quite deceiving because we do not really know how we got to that point in time, what route? OH! I forgot Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1 and 2). So…what to do, what to do…hmmmm…..I guess I would opt for knowing the future because changing the past could cause me to undo something that for whatever reason should not be undone. At least with the future….there are some unknowns and what I do may or may not cause something to be worse or better, I suppose. You know, perhaps I should have paid attention to folks like Carl Sagan, Einstein, or Stephen Hawking.

    • Such a well thought out answer! All good points. Changing the past inevitably does change the present as well as the future in ways that we can’t really predict. I wonder what Carl, Albert, and Stephen would have chosen…

      And I love that you cite such esteemed references while giving your answer. You must work in academia. 😉

  2. This scenario is rather cyclic in nature, wouldn’t you say? If you change the past, it’s because you are altering the future (presumably). If you see the future, you will attempt to modify the present (which is the past) to get desired results. Either makes my head hurt. One cannot know the consequences of either and its Butterfly Effect, so they both scare me.

    • So true. Both have unintended consequences. It’s a tough, mind-bending choice. I’m glad it’s all hypothetical. Unless someone comes forward and claims he or she has these super powers, that is…

  3. If I learned anything from Back to the Future(s) Parts 1, 2 & 3 ~ it is this: Don’t go messin’ around in the past because I don’t want Biff marrying Marty’s mom. Know what I’m saying?

    So, I would also opt to know the future and hopefully my fellow humans and I would have time to come up with any solutions to the problems I see on the horizon.

    Good question!

    • The Back to the Future movies sure taught us a lot. Things like Biff and Marty’s mom getting married just should never be allowed to happen. 😉

      Having the power to see the future has it’s upside: knowing what mistakes lie ahead could help prevent catastrophic things from happening down the road. It’s all a ripple effect, isn’t it? Change one thing and that changes another and another. Reminds me of the red string theory (not sure if I named it correctly) you spoke about on your blog.

  4. Tami, I choose neither. Our past is our past, and despite wars and famine and even local/family trauma, we have free speech, vote for women, civil rights. We’re not perfect, so why should our past be perfect? And tempting as it may be, I would not want to know my future, even if I could change it.

    BTW, if you need to prove the whole cheetah thing to your readers, you have my permission. I’m proud of my momma.

    • I agree, the past isn’t perfect and by the same token, neither will be the future. But I can’t help but think about changing some of the horrendous things done to people in the past and how our world would be all the better for some of the suffering to be wiped away. I realize it would change things in ways I can’t even imagine, and probably in ways that wouldn’t be all that good. But still, if I had the power to prevent someone from unspeakable pain and torture how could I not?

      • Oh, and thanks for the permission to share your photo! You may be seeing it show up in the kasbah soon, lest anyone doubt you… 🙂

  5. on ,
    livrancourt said:

    I thought I had the answer till I read the other Kasbah guest’s responses. Hmm…with either choice you’d have to be very careful of the terms you used to describe the changes you want to make. I’m going to leave this one for others…

    • I’m curious what your answer would have been. This is a tough one. I’m glad I still have the week to figure out how I’m going to explain my answer.

    • on ,
      Ellen Gregory said:

      Yes, exactly why decided to answer before reading other comments!

  6. on ,
    Ellen Gregory said:

    Gonna answer this before reading Other answers… I’d rather know the future for two reasons. 1) I’m not a believer in regret or desiring to do things over. Everything in the past makes us who we are, either personally or globally. 2) I’d rather move towards something, striving to reach it if it’s good (hope) or striving to avoid it if bad. Seems more proactive.

    • I know what you mean about not reading other answers before writing down your own. Like you, everyone has made valid points. The future does seem like the option to choose when considering the past is the past, for better or worse, and it’s brought us to where we are now, flaws, wisdom gained and all.

  7. on ,
    marcia said:

    I think I’d go with changing the past…… hopefully the impact would make a difference for future generations.

    • Totally agree. Do you think if we altered the past it would rid the world of evil insurance companies, too? I know, I know. That’s too lofty a goal. 😉

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