Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Now or Never?

Have you ever heard the saying "Live in the moment"? Of course you have. But you've probably also heard from your parents or other elders that you'd better "start thinking about your future."

Huh. So which is it? What are we supposed to do? There's plenty of arguments for both sides, but as usual, it's all about balance, and about following the right advice at the right time. I mean, if you're thinking about the future all the time, there's no meaning to life. If it's all about the destination, rather than the journey, then
  1. You won't know what to do when you get there.
  2. You won't know what to do if you don't get there.
  3. You're wasting the majority of your life. It's like going on an airplane and never looking out the window. Unless you're afraid of heights, though I'd hope you're not afraid of life.
 At the same time, a lot of society's problems seem to be a result of short-term thinking. Beyond imagining jet packs and flying cars and hubristic scientists managing to destroy the world, we don't consider what the world will be like even 20 or 30 years in the future.

Joel Pett, USA Today, 12/7/09

Politically, there's a lot of problems that need to be solved. A lot of them need solutions now. But in the same way that people only think about aiding the poor of foreign countries - or even their own! - during an emergency, I think people get too hung up on quick, visible results. We look the other way as we pass the burden of even bigger problems on to future generations.

Thinking about the moment is great for your personal life. You've got to enjoy it while you've got it. But when the decisions are ones that affect all of society, we need to think about the future. We have to be creative and innovative and look outside what we would normally do. There's bound to be a solution that may not be quite as effective in the short term, but will help (or at least not hurt) in the long term. As I said, it's about balance, about compromise. We've got to stop cheating on the scales by adding extra weight to the short-term side.

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