One of the many things separating human beings from animals is our penchant for living toward the future. Animals live in the past, mostly guided by instinct, learned behaviors, and things that worked before. In many ways people are like that, too. However, we are eternal optimists and perpetual anticipators. We live toward the future, envisioning the days ahead, what they will bring and what we hope to realize, and this enables us to get through the sometimes-difficult or uncertain present. For example, it just occurred to me yesterday that in two weeks it would be the summer solstice, and, as everybody knows, from that day forward the days begin to get shorter, meaning that fall and winter can't be that far away. Now this is something to look forward to, especially if you're the kind of person, as I am, who could easily skip summer with all its heat, humidity, and long, bright days and get on with the gray, gloom, chill, and bluster of late fall and winter. So why does this matter? I'm getting a little concerned that Americans may be losing sight of their future. We have become so fixated on the present, especially on the floundering economy, that we seem to be making decisions, or allowing decisions, on the basis of mere expediency, decisions which, while they bring hope for the short-term, could be disastrous in the long-term. Like the incurring of trillions of dollars of debt. Ceding important parts of our everyday lives to the government. Turning to drugs for relief from everyday maladies such as sadness, sexlessness, and sleeplessness. And simply shrugging as governmnet officials make outlandish statements they refuse to be held accountable for saying. Shouldn't we be looking to longer horizons and a fuller picture of what can be, or might be? If we only make decisions based on whatever momentary relief we can find, we're liable to sacrifice the future - if not ours, then perhaps that of our grandchildren. I can get through the summer without drugging myself or turning to the President to appoint a weather czar to make sure I'm as comfortable as I think I ought to be. Having that fall/winter horizon helps. What the nation needs at the moment is not someone who will give us whatever we want to assuage our fear in the present, but someone who can espy a brighter future beyond the far horizon, and who is able to lead and persuade us to hang in there and take the heat until better days come.
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