Present imperfect tense

I completely agree with Sally’s comment. She totally saw where I was going with this: People in that society don’t know any better – how could they? In contrast, for the time traveller from the future simply to accept slavery, given what he knows, would be monstrous. He does not have the option of ignorance.

Strategically, I also wholeheartedly agree with Sally that the time traveller (assuming he cannot leave) is obligated to work toward emancipation in the most effective possible way, rather than flaming out in anger or merely freeing a few individual slaves to assuage his conscience.

Now that we’ve established that, let’s ask a slightly harder question: Suppose an individual has come to realize that slavery will no longer be prevalent in another fifty years. Perhaps he has unique insight into a coming shift in technology that is difficult or impossible for his peers to understand, such as a new kind of mechanization that will take the place of slave labor.

Is he in the same situation as our errant time traveller?

One Response to “Present imperfect tense”

  1. Zabador says:

    I would say that the situation is different. Is the time traveler authorized to uncover his status of time traveler, coming from the future ? Because the time traveler knows the earth is not flat and might not be killed for saying that because he has a good reason to say something different, maybe even some sort of proof… The guy who’s just smarter is gonna be killed because he’s supposed to be one of them (and has been killed in the past) and has no reason to know more than the other ones (unless he’s a witch).

    My point is that I see at least two differences. One belongs to the current group of people, the other doesn’t. And one of them is SURE it is gonna happen while the other one can only SUPPPOSE it is gonna happen this way, which makes him have less power over the others.

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