Foresight vs Hindsight
Foresight vs Hindsight
I knew a kid once who watched too many episodes of Superman. We won’t name names here, because that would just be cruel, but this anonymous eight-year-old developed a certainty that the key to Superman’s extraordinary powers was the fancy cape. After all, Clark Kent was just an ordinary guy until he dashed into a phone booth and traded the three-piece suit for that snazzy leotard and cape. (I always wondered where he stashed his Brooks Brothers three-piece in that form-fitting hero costume?)
You probably already know where this is headed but let’s just say there were lessons learned (some more important than others). After the first belly-flop onto a wooden floor from his parents’ bed, superboy learned that a couch cushion might provide a softer landing in the event that his trusty cape needed more air time to start working (lesson learned).
What his limited understanding of physics failed to inform him was that gravity is based on the inverse square law, and that while a higher platform might provide more falling time for the cape’s magic powers to take effect, an even thicker cushion would be needed to remediate the more dynamic impact with Earth in the event that leaping from the top bunkbed did not provide sufficient air time (painful lesson learned).
While I know you’re not laughing out loud at our anonymous friend — because that would just be sinister and offensive — you probably are rolling your eyes in bewilderment at his lack of foresight. Here are some more modern examples.
Last week, I read two articles about the travails of electric vehicle travel. In the first article, the CEO of Ford Motors, attempted to take his company’s new electric pickup truck for a road trip across historic Highway 66. He spent more time sitting at charging stations than he spent surveying the great American landscape. (Lesson: charging stations may be the new advertising Xanadu.)
The second story was about our esteemed energy secretary taking a similar, PR-motivated trip but with better planning. She sent junior team members ahead in gas-powered vehicles to block and reserve charging stations in anticipation of her arrival. That action was not well received by locals waiting to charge their own vehicles. (Lesson: entitlement knows no economic boundaries.) Meanwhile, one of our states on the left coast, is set to outlaw all fossil fueled vehicles by 2045.
Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against renewable energy, assuming it’s available in the appropriate quantity and at a reasonable cost to keep our country running. Those spiffy wind farms aren’t going to cut it. They can’t even generate enough kilowatts to pay for themselves without government subsidies, much less, power factories and homes. Solar farms are viable in places like Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, with great expanses of treeless, arid land, but try figuring out how to make solar energy work in population-dense areas like the East Coast, especially during long, cloudy winters.
Perhaps we should be a bit less hasty in capping all those fossil fuel wells.
Even more alarming is the mushrooming prejudicial trend of “cancelling” or just condemning anyone who fails to adhere to our narrow social agenda. I love Thomas Sowell’s illustration about the high cost of prejudice in his book “Discrimination and Disparities.” He cites the example of post-civil war plantation owners who refused to pay black laborers to tend their crops. It wasn’t long before the higher cost of inexperienced white laborers drove the more bigoted aristocrats into bankruptcy.
Our current climate of cultural intolerance is propelling us relentlessly towards the precipice of irreparable division. We all seem Hellbent on inventing our own personal laws of nature, morality, and equity … and isolating our personal herds from any individuals or herds who fail to make us feel better about those emotion-based choices. When did the word “tolerance” become a negatively charged concept? More important, when did we stop learning from thousands of years of recorded history and start basing our thinking on what “feels” right instead of the hard-learned lessons of our ancestors? When did foresight cease to depend on hindsight?
A system of morality which is based on relative emotional values is a mere illusion.
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— Brant Hansen
The bottom line of this book is that you and I are both screwed up individuals and so what! When we realize how far short of perfection we fall, it’s a whole lot harder to judge our neighbors for their imperfections. Just internalizing that single fact, brings us much closer to what we were created to be than all the sermons, all the political rallying cries, and all the self-help books we will ever encounter. It provides us the freedom to live life.
A meeting of great minds who think alike