Past imperfect tense

Suppose you are an errant traveller through time, and your malfunctioning time machine has just sent you back into the past, to an era when pretty much nobody questioned the institution of slavery – and you happen to be of the right ethnic group not to find yourself enslaved.

Presumably you would want to fit in. But you find that all the people you meet socially have slaves. And those people think you should have slaves too, like any “normal” person.

The problem is, you know something they don’t: That at some point in the future the entire concept of slavery will be considered abhorent. But you can’t tell people that. You can’t even tell people where you’re from, because they will just think that’s crazy talk.

As far as society is concerned, the problem is you. You know something nobody is supposed to know yet. So what do you do? Do you take on slaves and try to treat them really nicely? Do you refuse to have any slaves, and risk being a social outcast?

2 Responses to “Past imperfect tense”

  1. sally says:

    maybe you become one.

  2. sally says:

    Mostly its the only other option–if you can’t (stand) beat (ing) them, join them.

    Being from the future, you already are a social outcast–so bonding with the slaves while not becoming one–still makes you become one in the eyes of the masters of the time.

    If you were a really good time traveller, you’d take the slaves away with you as you left the stupid planet of unenlightened slave keepers.

    If you can’t leave the other option is to pretend to fit in, whilst silently using your knowledge of many things not invented yet, to help the slaves become emancipated.

    On Feb 4, 2008, at 7:51 PM, ADMIN wrote:

    Or did you mean you become a social outcast?

    To me that’s the more interesting interpretation of your comment,
    for the following reason:

    It would actually be much worse for the time traveller to keep
    slaves than it is for the people who come from that time. They
    don’t know any better, whereas the time traveller does.

    Do you agree?

    maybe you become one.

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