It is still the past that dominates our lives. But why? Why are we so bound to it? It is into the future we go, tomorrow is the eventful thing for us. There lies all that remains to be felt by us and our children and all those that are dear to us.
Yet we marshal and order men into classes entirely with regard to the past; we draw shame and honor out of the past; against the rights of property, the vested interests, the agreements and establishments of the past the future has no rights. Our conveniences, like our thoughts, are all retrospective. Our clothing, our habits of speech, our weights and measures, our religious and political theories, all witness to the binding power of the past upon our minds.
All people believe the past is certain, defined, and knowable, and only a few people believe that it is possible to know anything about the future. Man has acquired the habit of going to the past because it was the line of least resistance for his mind.
Many people believe, therefore, that there can be no sort of certainty about the future. You can know no more about the future, I was recently assured by a friend, than you can know which way a kitten will jump next – the future as a perpetual source of convulsive surprises, as an impenetrable, incurable, perpetual blankness. It is our ignorance of the future and our persuasion that that ignorance is absolutely incurable that alone gives the past its enormous predominance in our thoughts.
About the past I would suggest we are inclined to overestimate our certainty, just as I think we are inclined to underestimate the certainties of the future.
Fragment uit The Discovery of the Future, H. G. Wells, 1913^ Terug naar boven