A fundamental problem in the way America operates as a nation and as individuals, seems to be severe short sightedness. Whether it is Washington politicians, corporate chiefs or general citizens; many (possibly most) among us lack vision in a crippling way. We seem to be driven almost exclusively by instant gratification, immediate risk and short-term influence instead of the core ideals and long-term goals that should really be our focus.
The U.S. Government makes decisions that can affect not only millions of Americans and not even just the billions of people inhabiting the planet today but trillions (and more?) of people who will one day walk this earth, all in their own time and space. Decisions of this magnitude can not be made based solely on todays events. Even looking out ten or twenty years is laughable for any real change at this level. In light of this, aspiring public servants (before ever running for office) should have a concrete vision of their ideal society. They should understand what that society looks like, how it operates and why. Voters too share this responsibility to understand their own ultimate goals for the world. With it, all decisions can be weighed against that vision, it will act as a reference point to which a path is built. Every decision made and vote cast should enforce a steady progression towards this ideal. Without such a vision to guide positions and policies, one is simply reacting to the world around them instead of pro actively shaping it.
In the American corporate world, much of the focus is on daily stock price, quarterly profits and annual bonuses. While some companies seem to rise above this, recent (and less recent) events indicate that many do not. Today’s large corporations have realms of influence similar to large governments and thus should approach major decisions with just as much care. While these organizations are different from our government in that they do not directly serve the people, they do so indirectly and should be conscience of this relationship. All companies ultimately operate at the will of their employees and their customers. It is the responsibility of customers and employees to exert this will when making decisions, requiring businesses to have and to foster real vision. Company executives like government officials should understand where they would like to go. Not today or tomorrow but ultimately. Then they should stick to it and work to make it a reality.
The general citizenry of this country is the worst offender in this epidemic of near-sightedness. As stated above, it is our responsibility to control the government and the corporations. We should be forcing them to share their world views and ultimate goals with us and then supporting those that align with our own. This support is given through voting, buying and working. Part of the problem is simply the will to pay attention, which is sorely lacking in many among us. The heart of the matter though appears to be a vacancy of vision, a lack of foresight or any interest in gaining it. Not knowing where you would like to go is a sure way to end up somewhere else. Or as Draper L. Kaufman, Jr. put it: “Those who do not create the future they want must endure the future they get.” The first step in creating that future is determining what it is.
Decide what you want. Not for breakfast and not even for your children but for the world and all those to come. Then act accordingly.