How much do we care about our descendants? Right now it feels as though we would do anything for our children. Assuming they feel the same way about their children, by the transitive property we should also feel similarly about our grandchildren, our great-grandchildren, etc., unto infinity (or the end of mankind). But do we truly have more than a passing interest in someone five generations away? If everyone has their children at age 30, our great-great-great grandchildren will be born roughly 120 years from now. One hundred twenty years ago was 1897. In 1897, people were still traveling by horse and buggy. The leading causes of death were pneumonia, flu, and tuberculosis. There were no computers. The Chinese Exclusion Act had just been renewed five years before. I do not believe in the existence of 1897. Even if someone born in 1897 were alive today, she would not believe in it, just as I don’t believe in the 1980s or my parents in the ’60s, albeit theirs was a different ’60s.
I cannot, then, even fathom the existence of 2137. It looks like an address, not a year. Conjure 2137? A year peopled with strangers, a few dozen of which might be mine. Would any of our money be left? Should any of it be? What are those people to me? Accidents.
But Teenie and Beanie feel like anything but accidents. They are so very much themselves, and the love they evoke is ungovernable. Could it be that the transitive property, so important to logic, simply doesn’t hold for people? Obvious and yet ludicrous! Oh well. So much of life is.