Time capsule: Send your message to the future

For World Philosophy Day 2012 (15 November), UNESCO invites you to leave a message or objects for future generations in a time capsule, that will be buried at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Paris Headquarters and unearthed in 2062 on the same date. 

What would you have to say to those will be alive 50 years from now? What messages or objects would you regard as being essential to pass on to them ? Anything that is important to you - and therefore, of possible interest to future generations - is welcome. Tell us the reason for your choice. Feel free to use any kind of tools to send your message to future generations. 

Some ideas:
  • Think of wisdom and values you inherited from your parents and previous generations, and of your own, that you want to pass on to your children and future generations. What would you want to say to your grandchildren? What is the most important message or object you wish to give them?
  • Draw or take a picture
  • Suggest objects which are important to you but might not be available in the future. A laptop, credit cards, CDs or even a smartphone: Do you think that people in 2062 will know what they are?
  • A message sharing what you think is most important or inspiring in your life
  • A maxim, a meaningful quote, or a book: For example, would Plato’s Republic still make sense to people in 50 years? Or would another philosopher become the reference point for cultural thought?
Each year, World Philosophy Day is a unique opportunity to bring the international community together and encourage thought-provoking discussions on contemporary issues. As the defenses of peace must be constructed in people’s minds, it is our duty to work to strengthen those minds through critical thought and mutual understanding.
The time capsule is a powerful reminder that intergenerational solidarity is key to lasting peace. Just as the United Nations was founded on the premise to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,” we all have the moral obligation to endeavor, every day, to hand on a better world for the future. The needs of future generations cannot be victim to expediency and current interests. Today’s problems -- including poverty, technological and material underdevelopment, unemployment, exclusion, discrimination and threats to the environment -- must be solved in the interests of both present and future.

UNESCO’s Declaration on the Responsibilities of the Present Generations Towards Future Generations proclaims that “future as well as present generations enjoy full freedom of choice as to their political, economic and social systems and are able to preserve their cultural and religious diversity”. At a time when the very existence of humankind and its environment are threatened, we must “bequeath future generations an Earth which will not one day be irreversibly damaged by human activity”. Present generations should strive for sustainable development and preserve living conditions, particularly the quality and integrity of the environment. Scientific and technological progress should not in any way impair or compromise the preservation of the human and other species. Education is an important instrument in fostering peace, justice, understanding, tolerance and equality for the benefit of present and future generations. 

In a letter to future generations, the Nobel Prize Winner for Medicine/Physiology Rita Levi-Montalcini writes: “The antidote to the all too common tendency to be preoccupied with ourselves is to develop, from the earliest age… the habit of being interested in everything around us… This attitude will not only prevent you from becoming self-absorbed, but will be of tremendous help to you at every stage of your life.” Indeed, it is not enough to think that the future concerns us only as individuals. Let’s build our common future and rejoice in humanity’s shared destiny.








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