This blog has been discontinued. See Adam Gonnerman for all future posts.

Monday, January 23, 2023

The Short-Sightedness of Today's Leaders: Why We Need to Think Long-Term

Midjourney AI
We dream of a better world, and barely plan for tomorrow. Thinking decades ahead seems lost on this present age. 

It's no secret that many of today's leaders tend to focus on the short-term. Politicians have to worry about getting elected every few years, so they tend to focus on policies that will please the electorate in the immediate future. They have strong incentives to really exaggerate and polarize the electorate, to the serious harm of the nation, in order to expand and firm up their support base. Corporations, meanwhile, are under pressure to deliver consistent quarter-by-quarter growth in order to please shareholders. Recently we've seen this with the massive layoffs in the tech industry, which are driven not by real necessity, as I see it, but out of a need to show the shareholders that they'll do anything to maximize profit. And for some religious groups, the belief that we're living in the end times can lead to a sense of apathy about the future. 

That last point is one that I want to expand on a little before proceeding. I can imagine someone reading that and say 'not all religions,' despite the fact I clearly wrote 'some religious groups.' The fact is that it's even worse than that with evangelicals and Pentecostals. Within the religious right in the US there is a strong anti-intellectual streak derived from a Bible that condemns the wise, which, when combined with ridiculously detailed end times beliefs, leads them beyond apathy to antipathy towards efforts to make the world better. 

This short-sightedness is a problem, because climate change and other global challenges are issues that require long-term thinking to solve. We can't keep kicking the can down the road and expecting future generations to deal with the consequences.

Imagine a world where politicians think at least 100 years into the future when they make policy decisions. Imagine if corporations focused on sustainable growth, rather than short-term gains. And imagine if religious groups put more emphasis on stewardship and care for the earth, rather than just waiting for the end times to arrive.

We need to elect politicians who have a long-term vision, and hold corporations accountable for their impact on the environment and society. And as individuals, we need to start thinking about the long-term consequences of our actions. I, for one, want to be a good ancestor. This doesn't mean we ignore the problems of today or let injustice slide. It means look to the far future and act in the present accordingly.

Only by thinking long-term can we hope to create a sustainable future for ourselves and future generations.