I spend a lot of time thinking about paleo-ecology and about business. This means I need to operate in very different timescales. I need to pay the mortgage and restore ecological processes that are tens of millions of years old. This is relevant because we live in an age where political partisans, special interests, and media are competing to manipulate our passions for their own gain. One of the ways they do this is by exploiting the different threats to our society and the different timescales in which those threats unfold. Take for instance the rift between Neveragain and the NRA.
Someone says, “I need to send my kids to school tomorrow and I need to know they will be safe in a world that seems to be becoming unhinged.” And all of that makes sense. But then someone else says, “I want to make sure that my grandchildren can protect themselves should the government move in an autocratic direction over the next fifty years.” Which is also reasonable. But we are letting ourselves be manipulated into thinking that those statements are mutually exclusive and that the people who make them are enemies.
Another good example revolves around global warming. Someone says, “If we don’t make some change the way we interact with the atmosphere, in fifty years we are going to have a lot of problems.” Then someone else stands up and says, “But I need to get to work tomorrow.” And we are made to believe that this is an intractable problem and we shouldn’t talk to or trust the people that make one statement or the other.
Honestly guys, this is nuts. We all need to take a deep breathe. Save for a handful of psychopaths and sociopaths, ninety-nine percent of the people on both the Neveragain and the NRA sides want the same thing. Peace, security, freedom. We disagree on the first steps towards achieving those ends. But that is normal and healthy and a sign that we are trying to deal with all the issues involved.
The actual solution to this problem is way beyond my pay grade. However, I have a sense that when there are fifty years of separation between the two threats, there are plenty of opportunities to craft a good (though probably never perfect) solution.