Even if Just a Bit

Even if Just a Bit

Sandy, the reaction to Sandy, the Petraeus affair, the reaction to the Petraeus affair, the Middle East, the lack of action or reaction to Israeli misconduct, the Yankees, the Jets, the trivial and the sublime: which is which?

During times when my principal professional duties involved counseling clients on strategic issues I would often find myself frustrated by their proclivity to ignore advice and warnings and then demand solutions to remedy the consequences I’d described as inevitable, unavoidable and irremediable. That seems a part of human nature and especially of the public’s political psyche.

We face many critical problems and ignoring them has serious, inevitable, unavoidable and irremediable consequences yet ignore them we do and then blame others when prophecies prove accurate. That is, of course, happening with climate change, and with foreign intervention, with the purported war on terror and with the fruitless war on drugs and with a myriad other things. To some extent it’s always happened and will continue to happen, but the consequences are becoming more and more serious. I used to teach decision making based on an option pyramid were time and inaction keep winnowing the choices. We are dangerously near the tip of that pyramid in way too many areas.

Our responses when we ignore dire warnings are like those of spoiled children: we demand actions and solutions after adequate actions and solutions are no longer available and if we don’t get them, we demand new leadership, even if the only viable alternative is the group that created or aggravated or made the problem irresolvable in the first place. Maybe lemmings perceive the proximate future and their waves of mass suicide are just precursors to the only solutions we’ll soon have left.

I hope not. I’m an optimist with great faith in our future and I tell myself that, like children in transition, we’re just going through a bad faze. But it is a very bad faze and not all children survive theirs. Sometimes I question whether the problem is not inherent in democracy, but then, as in the recent elections, democracy comes through, even if just a bit.


© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2012; all rights reserved