I can’t help but think that in these modern times we have lost sight of the bigger picture. For our own lives we are told we must plan ahead. I’ve lost sight of the number of times I’ve been asked ‘where do you see yourself in five years time?’ We are told we should budget for the year and plan for a lifetime with our finances. I’m told I should have ambitions, a trajectory for my life. I struggle with all of these.
I think perhaps though, when it comes to the bigger picture, the world, our place in the universe, our place in time, we haven’t thought to add the same logic.
Each generation is lumbered with their own tragedy, their own cross to bear, and each has managed it in their own way. The Romans chose to use their time to modernise the world and press their perspective on other cultures. The Imperial Chinese and Elizabethan English chose a similar tack. The Buddhists choose to sit still and go inside for adventure, the Great Generation had to fight for capitalism, for freedom of religion and to be free from persecution. The baby boomers fought against war and for equality and personal freedom.
There are some ideas that seem to perpetuate through history, and which might be attached to power, religion, masculinity, femininity, skin colour or heritage. Sometimes it seems as though the ‘good’ ideas are often bulldozed by the ‘bad’ and that progress is hard to come by.
I wonder whether it is this need to focus specifically on our own time that keeps us tied to these perpetual ideas. Just like having to live hand to mouth in your twenties makes it hard to comprehend a time in your seventies you should be planning for.
Somehow focusing so completely on the very real and big problems we have right now prevents us from being able to pull back and consider how we might mitigate similar problems for our children and grandchildren, and perhaps even thousands of years into a future beyond our comprehension.
My worry is if we and our leaders can’t learn to think of the bigger picture we will end up committing to a small downward spiralling staircase of ever worsening conditions for ourselves and the world.