Series: Long-Term Vision #5
This series is titled long-term vision, but below the vision is thinking. I want to consider long-term and short-term thinking. Short-term thinking serves the immediate, but only in long-term thinking is there room for vision and hope for the future.
Let us take a closer look at thinking. It is usually not something that is conscious (unless we choose to make it so) it is an operative principle below the surface guiding thought and action. Long-term thinking (ltt) and short-term thinking (stt) are on the opposite ends of the spectrum of how we face life. We need both and alternate between them—If we have an appointment on a given day we employ stt to fit the activities of the day around it. If we are buying a house it’s important to employ ltt to evaluate size in relation to family needs, consider location and proximity to what we find important, do an analysis of cost as it compares to income . . . and not react impulsively ‘because this one is cute’. It is an individual choice to rely more on one side than the other but it seems like our fast paced society encourages stt more than ltt, the latter takes too long!
How to explain stt and ltt? They are pretty much self-explanatory but to elaborate for better understanding let’s say: short-term thinking seeks quick, efficient solutions to immediate problems/demands/situations whereas long-term thinking looks ahead and back to take into account possible effects of our choice and remains open to possibilities not yet considered—which opens the door to vision.
The ancient civilizations were imbued with long-term vision; their lives were shorter than people of today yet they were aware of a sense of belonging to history. They built structures to last: Roman roads, aqueducts and the Colosseum are still there for us to see; Egyptians gave evidence to it with the pyramids; China’s great wall and the Terracotta soldiers were meant to last forever, they defy our understanding.
That awareness of belonging to the flow of life gives meaning to existence. It has been lost in the modern era. We became the NOW generation, members of a throw away society, ‘If it feels good do it’. With too much short-term thinking and too little long-term thinking we’ve embraced meaninglessness. Without a meaning or purpose it’s easy to choose violence or suicide.
Step out of now for a minute and look back with long-term vision. The human came into existence as an unfinished species with the inherent need to self-complete (its called evolution). Going all the way back, Teilhard de Chardin defined the law of complexity-consciousness. Briefly, it recognizes the path of evolution as a systematic progression. The ‘without’ of life forms began with simple one-cell forms and over eons, constantly complexifying, till homosapien (human) appeared. Additionally, in the ‘within’, there was a steady progression of consciousness until thought was born in the human. Eons are needed for the light of consciousness to fully realize our destiny and recognize our interdependence. If we go back far enough, we can see progress in mankind’s evolving consciousness; part of which is the search for ‘rightness’, exemplified by relinquishing what was once seen as the ‘norm’ but with new eyes seen as unacceptable—slavery being the most obvious example.
Early humans gathered in clusters that came to be known as tribes. Then, in some unknown long ago, some brave individuals began to move beyond their tribe to walk the Silk Road in order to trade for exotic things found or created by other tribes . . . centuries passed, then ships sailed out defying the ‘known’ truth of a flat world wherein if they sailed too far, they’d drop off the edge. They didn’t drop off, they discovered unknown places and the world got larger. As exploring expanded a new generation followed rivers into the unknown, surveying and mapping; slashing through jungles and recording what was found and seen to bring new versions of the world we occupy. Over time technology grew to bring new ways to travel, the invention of cars to move us over land and planes to fly us thru the air—till finally, rockets broke free of earth’s gravity and floated out in space, allowing the astronauts to actually see planet earth for the first time, there it was! A tiny speck in the vast universe enveloped in a layer of clouds embracing the life within.
This world is one whole interacting unit supporting the rarity of life. Once again our world had been rediscovered. It is a global world. And we, the reflective species that is programmed to see and appreciate the wonder, must rejoin the flow of life to find the way to assure its continuation