The verified oldest person alive today is Misao Okawa, a Japanese woman born on the 5th of March, 1898. The 115 years she has lived have been full of dramatic changes, revolutionary new ideas, incredible new discoveries and inventions, catastrophic tragedies and conflicts, wonderful triumphs and achievements. She has lived through the First and Second World Wars, read about the sinking of the Titanic, was alive during the first flight of the airplane, and likely witnessed the first landing on the Moon. The memories of the entire last century belong to her. When she dies, she will take with her all of these experiences. There will be no more memories of the times before 1898. The humans of that era will all be gone; the entire collective human experience of living during those years will have been extinguished.
Consider every person you have met in your life. Every single one of them will be gone within 150 years. All of their memories, all of their experiences, all of their dreams, thoughts, hopes, and worries will be nothing more than the memories of those who survive them. One of the most powerful developments in the course of human progress has thus been the creation of history. The ability to recall and retell the experiences of the past, which would otherwise have been lost, allows us in our current time to understand why and how the humans who preceded us did what they did. It allows us to understand the world as it was before any human alive today came into being. History is a running record of the generations of humans who have been born into the world, changed it, and then left it in death. Although everyone in the distant past has long since been gone, and although everyone alive today will one day be gone as well, history allows our memories, our experiences, our dreams, our thoughts, our hopes, and our worries to live on forever.
This is how our world works. This is how history is made. This is how our civilization develops. We, the humans of the early 21st century, are along for a ride through a lifetime of events, happenings, and changes. It is our time and turn to transform and develop the world, just like those who have come before us. We live in a society and a civilization which owes its existence and its present form to the past generations of humans which have developed it. They looked towards the mysterious future as we do today, and tried to shape their world and their time in anticipation of it. They ventured through a quest called life, a journey of growth, change, and then death. Today, we ourselves begin this journey.
We must remember our place in history. We live in an era of progress and modernity, of rapid change and development. 7 billion humans, more than at any point in the past, inhabit this Earth today, preparing to leave their mark on it. Even still, the humans of today are no different, and no more special, than the humans of the past and the humans of the future. We cannot predict our future, and instead march towards it by responding to the current situations, circumstances, and conditions in our world. We build upon the developments of the past, adding our name and our efforts to the growing list of humans who have made a difference. We continue to push our species towards the boundaries of the known, and probe the mysterious unknown. Today we live at the pinnacle of progress and development.
This, however, can be said about the human race at any point in time, both past and present. One day, the humans of the 21st century will be viewed from the same distant position and the same disconnect that we view the humans of the 1st and 2nd centuries. Our technology and our science, now the most modern and advanced that humanity has ever produced, will be as simple and ancient as the basic tools of the first agricultural civilizations.
One day, all of the experiences of the humans of the 21st century will be as distant and unfamiliar a memory as the experiences of the humans of the 1st century is to us. Eventually, all of the experiences of life before 1998 will be gone, like how all of those before 1898 will soon be. We thus cannot be arrogant in our belief that we in our present time are special, unique, or privileged. We are no different than the humans of the past, both in the way we have changed the world and in the way we experience the world. We must always remember that, though one day we will all be gone, a new generation of humanity will be born in our place. They will continue to push the boundaries; they will continue to develop our world. Humanity will march forward into the future, and we, the humans of the early 21st century, will be remembered as its past.