Over the Horizon
Previously I wrote when expressing what I want in a candidate, “I would rather you see over the horizon than to the horizon”. Let’s look more closely.
The phrase ‘temporal exhaustion’ means being mentally out of breath all the time from dealing with the present and having no energy left for imagining the future. Politicians have this affliction as much as or more so than ordinary people in part because the election cycle is too short, in part because the budgeting cycle is even shorter, in part because re-election is (seen as) dependent upon having accomplished something, and in part because we pressure the candidates to deal with the immediate.
Urgency has displaced importance. How stupid is that.
Some countries have taken steps to address this situation: Some have extended the term between elections, some have introduced multi-year budgeting, some have created positions for future generation ombudsmen, and some have committees to scrutinize legislation for its impact on future generations. Japan has created what I would call a future focus group comprising two teams – one representing the present and a second representing the future. The proposed legislation that comes from each team is significantly different.
Importance has overcome urgency. How smart is that.
Try this analogy: Two couples each buy a house. The houses are pre-owned, of identical age, construction, and size. Couple number one moves in and applies paint and wallpaper, maybe new carpet, and makes plans to renovate sometime in the future. Couple number two renovates all of the major systems – water, plumbing, roof, insulation, electrical, heat/cooling, and appliances – then moves in and makes plans to paint and trim sometime in the future.
Skin and bones or painted lips.
Make up and perfume or meat, milk, and vegetables? Health and fitness or chips and salsa? Screen games or outdoor sports? Reading, writing, and arithmetic or your choice? Binge watch or read? Text or talk? Borrow or save? Rhetoric or reality?
It is true that China is more future-focussed than most other countries. It has been suggested that benign dictatorship can overcome the short-sightedness of democracy. We shouldn’t have to go that far.
Show me you can plan beyond next weekend if you want my vote.