We need clear forethought to adapt successfully in our fast-moving web-driven world and soon to be CRISPR-driven life-formed Earth. How can we as a society adapt if we can only look at our present problems? Our present problems are the result of past thoughts and actions. When big public things moved slowly, we could think and talk for years about what should be done, because even wars took years to resolve themselves. Not that much was done quickly by the public as a decision, and when public pain came to us at least we had a good idea of where it came from, and could make some appropriate adjustments.
Our current problem is that our democratic system is based on the reactions of our society’s voting majority. It is an inherently slow process that in the past was a protection against ill-considered decision that resulted in rash actions. But, the majority of people are ill-prepared to think about problems that won’t become a catastrophe for a decade or two in the future. The majority of people have little foresight and thus no willingness to move toward distant goals. They have very real present problems that must be dealt with, and thus politicians who represent them only to react to their present painful circumstances. Thus there is no political ability to organize action toward reasonable long-term goals, and political action is limited to reaction to present perceived public problems. Individual thought can look ahead and progress to action, but to get the entire public to move requires reaction, and mass reaction is based on the sum of painful personal experience.
The key to individual life is a quick adaptation to present circumstances, and present circumstances must include some existing personal wisdom and forethought. Public adaptation in a democracy lacks the quick adaptation of an individual because people can only feel present pain, not future pain. They can remember past pain, and thus are able to avoid some problems based on recent conflicts that brought pain, but linking the past to the future, even in the slow-moving past, was difficult. In our present electronic world, it is impossible. Thus our politicians, who are supposed to create policies to help us in the future, are driven by the current public pain that was created in the past because the politicians must please the public, who are locked in the present.
To worsen that already difficult slow-moving public problem, a huge section of this public is locked into self-pity because of their slow response to the realities of our fast-moving modern world. They have fallen into a mine of past desperation in which they are stuck, and from which they refuse to be pulled out, because that is where they functioned well decades ago. They want to go back to the good old days, even though those days were grim, because at least they could survive there. They can not survive where they are, and so they are desperate. You must be able to think about your bleak future to be really miserable in the present.
The first law of life is that the individual and the species must adapt to their present situation or die. And now we must go one further and adapt to the coming situation or soon die.