January 10, 2011

200 year plan

Posted in inheritance, money tagged at 9:47 am by weiszguy

A while back I wrote about a five-year plan. Recently I’ve been challenged to take a bit longer view – I’ve started working on the 200 year plan. Whoa! Why 200 years? I’ll be long dead, and so will my children and grandchildren. In fact, I expect seven to eight generations will be following me in the next 200 years.

What will life be like in 2211? Will it be as different from 2011 as 2011 is from 1811? Will we finally have Jetson-style flying cars? Will we fly faster than light? Will my great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren still be suffering from the common cold? What will that eighth generation look like? How many people will be members of that generation? And more importantly, why should I put together a 200 year plan that proposes to teach that generation anything? What can I possibly teach somebody who won’t be born until after my name is long forgotten? What can someone 200 years ago teach me today?

200 year from now technology will be completely different; national boundaries will be different; moral, ethical, and cultural norms will be different. Even the world’s major religions, while they will probably still be around, will be very different. About the only thing that will be unchanged is human nature, which has been constant for millennia.

Humans will always be looking for happiness. We will always try to make the world better for ourselves and for our children (although maybe not for someone else’s children). We will always have the need to explore and invent. We will always feel the effects of love and hate, friendship and betrayal, birth and death.

Given the constantly changing state of the world, and the unchanging state of human nature, I’d like my progeny to know it’s not all about money. In fact, looking at a 200 year time line, money is almost useless, unless it is used to further human development and understanding. Money can’t buy love, friendship, or eternal life, but it can ease hunger, search for cures for incurable diseases, and establish colonies in outer space.

If you’re reading this in the 23rd century — Hi! I can’t tell you how to communicate with your “computers” or how to get from point A to point B in the least amount of time. But I can tell you to seek the things money can’t buy, and to use your money to help others seek the things money can’t buy.