This post is based on two articles.
The first is by Peggy Noonan, entitled, America Is at Risk of Boiling Over. Her essential point is this: many Americans today are thinking that things are NOT getting better for their children. She gives some examples that you may or may not agree with. Myself, I really don't think out-of-control immigration is the issue. But I do agree, as would many of the people who regard the nation's literacy and commitment to education as a leading indicator, that we seem to be setting up our children to inherit a little less than what we inherited.
The second is Cash-Strapped States Cut The Lights by Paul Krugman. Krugman's point is much the same: as a nation, we're pulling things apart, by which I mean our most basic infrastructure. And I think he puts his finger on precisely the issue: we're thinking too short term. We think what benefits our pocket books in the short term is what's good for the nation, for our whole species, in the long term. That kind of thinking is, to be blunt, childishly self-centered.
I wish I could say I was surprised. My own take is that (just to take a timely example) the Tea Party folks are the same generation I know intimately: the Boomers. We are institution destroyers. The problem is not our nation, not our economic system, not our political structure. It is the continuing disruption of our shared life by people who want a little more than they are willing to give. Talkin' 'bout my generation.
I believe we are indeed at a point in our culture when we have to start looking ahead. The future is NOT about Baby Boomers. And for the life of me, I wonder why any subsequent generation would listen to us.
I find myself, lately, saying a couple of things over and over.
First, "if you can't win the short game, play a long game."
Second, "it's rare to find someone who can build a sand castle. It's easy to find people who can kick it down."