Past, Present and Future

I asked a question in my last post, "If you could go back in time and change a major event in history, would you do it? If so, which event and why? If not, why not?" I got a few responses and none of them would be willing to change anything. Feel free to answer that question for yourself if you haven't already. So now I pose this question to myself.

I love the idea of time travel and seeing the past, but I also know that even going back in time would alter time after that moment. Altering major historical events would alter time for better or for worse. Preventing the assassination of President Kennedy might have kept him alive longer, but how much longer? There could have been a different successful attempt on his life. Also, what would have happened had he remained president? Perhaps we could have gone to war with Cuba or Russia. Then again, maybe he would have averted our involvement in Vietnam and kept us at peace longer. Nobody knows.

The events of the past shape our present and future, teaching us lessons and hopefully preventing us from repeating the same mistakes over and over. Having the power to change past events would simply delay our mistakes until further into the future. What are the alternative futures if the past has been prevented? Maybe Japan and Germany rule the world, maybe we are governed by Shar'ia Law, maybe World Wars 1 and 2 never happened, maybe World War 3 did happen. Maybe we would live in perfect peace for a million years or maybe we destroy the world in one fell swoop. The risk is not worth the reward under any circumstance. The most we can do right now is learn from the past. As George Santayana said, "The one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again." No, I would not go back in time to change anything, but would tread carefully in the present.