The future for a politician is â€œuntil the next election.â€ For the average working stiff it is â€œuntil the next paycheckâ€ of the next payment due date. Sometimes we take in a wider swath of time, but not often enough.
We strain our mind when asked to contemplate the effects our profligate consumption of natural resources will have on our children and future generations. We spend beyond our means, both personally and as a nation, certain that somehow it will all work out. Our President is offended when Congress looks as far ahead as next year when budgeting for the war on Iraq. â€œBoomersâ€ roll into retirement trying their best to avoid how it will be paid for.
We expect teenagers to live as though there is no tomorrow. The adults will take care of tomorrow, that is our job. But we donâ€™t have many adults in our culture anymore. They are too busy living the good life, watching â€œAmerican idolâ€ and wondering who Annaâ€™s babyâ€™s daddy is. We distract ourselves with any idiotic nonsense available because if we looked very far into the future at all we would have to face some terrible dilemmas.
America is in debt so far it is hard to imagine we will ever find a way to pay our way out. But what the heck, that is what our kids are for, right? If we stopped spending like drunken sailors today and paid our way as we go our economy would collapse. No more bond issues to pay for ribbons of highway upon which to drive our unnecessarily new SUV. No more national debt to be paid by the unborn. No more 52 inch plasma TV to replace the perfectly good one that is â€œout of date.â€
Just who is going to take care of the elderly in your family now that we have become dispersed to the far corners of our country, indeed the world? Who is raising our children now that we have to all work endlessly to survive? At what cost to ourselves as human beings has â€œprogressâ€ come? Where are we headed? Who are we becoming?
When Congress gave the President the power to invade Iraq, there was no debate at all about how such an action would fit into the longer range foreign policy. There was no examination in the national media of the place of America in the Middle East as we plunged headlong into treacherous sands. Where were the statesmen warning of the implications of this adventurous policy? Who asked the nation to embrace this role for America? Who warned of what could happen even one year down the road?
There was a time when the national dialogue included a future beyond next month, beyond next weeks Idol results, beyond the next election. Not much of such dialogue, but some. President Kennedy called upon Americans to look to a future of their own design; Presidents Roosevelt, Nixon and Reagan asked us to assume a role in the worldâ€™s future.
This administration actually does have a plan for the future of America and its war plans fit into them nicely. The problem is we the people were never invited to participate in the design of those plans. We were instead told to be afraid of this shadow or that, told to follow blindly into the path of preemptive wars. The justification? â€œ9/11â€. That was it, the answer to everything. But that horrific day was the answer to nothing and should have been the beginning of a deep and searching look into our national and individual soul to find who we were to be in these times. None of that occurred. We have been told instead to be good children and obey the authorities and just move on please, donâ€™t bother with the details.
We will need to pull ourselves out of our soundbite mentality and surrender our perpetual puer (eternal child) mentality and become adults who look beyond the horizon before acting. Each of us needs to take a hard look at the consequences of the way we live and stop thinking that someone else will clean up the mess we create.
There is a future out there. It is heading our way at blinding speed. Just because you donâ€™t look doesnâ€™t mean it wonâ€™t run you over.