Most people would agree that technology has played a fundamental role in the development of recent society and how it has benefitted global culture to some degree, but not many understand how technology can be a double-edged sword. I myself only came to understand the effect that technology can have on a society yesterday while our trip leader Carleton Schade and I explored the monumental masterpiece of Angkor Watt, and the mysterious of ruins of an ancient buddhist temple.
As we rattled ideas off of each other, along with the occasional mind-blowing-temple-ruin-fact, we began to realize that these structures were more than just ornate architecture; they acted as symbols of the unprecedented strength and prosperity of the ancient Cambodian culture.
After realizing how difficult it was for ancient Cambodians to construct monuments such as those we were exploring, we decided that their culture was much more advanced than we had originally believed.
Upon purchasing an informational guide book, our hypothesis was confirmed. The ancient Cambodians who laid out, designed, and built Angkor Watt were no Cro-Magnons. These legendary architects figured out ways to execute intricate structural designs, with hand-crafted tools that shouted “innovation” like none before.
Although our initial theory was proven correct, Carleton deepened our examination of the temples by asking the million dollar question, “If this civilization was so ‘advanced’ as everyone claims, then way did it collapse?”
Generally speaking, most people would just be satisfied with the simple Buddhist philosophy, “all good things must come to an end”, but not me.
He was asking a question that I knew I had an answer to. Carleton and I are men of science, not of philosophy. We needed facts.
But all of a sudden, it dawned upon me. The answer was so simple that I almost felt stupid. Even though I’d arrived at the answer, I took a second to figure out how I was going to phrase it.
“If a culture spends this much time, and energy, along with such a vast amount of resources building monuments like this, they couldn’t possibly have been prepared for any sorts of conflicts or wars. While the ancient Cambodians were developing cool ways to move rocks, their neighbors were developing combat technology.”
In all honesty I’d never thought of how technology can really make and/or break a society until today. I think that the modern society of today’s world can learn a lot from the mistakes that some of our ancestors made. We should be open-minded and willing to learn.