Our craving for excitement and all types of candy—the taste, the sound, the lifestyle—can cause us to choose short-term pleasure at the cost of our greater livelihood. We all face the same periodic dilemma: we crave something in the short term that will not benefit us much in the long term. In the face of that dilemma, sometimes we choose short-term benefits; other times we choose long-term benefits.
We all have moments of strength and weakness, and we all need rest, relief from toil, and some indulgence at times. But what makes the difference for each of us individually and then in mass, is whether we have come to believe that our greater fulfillment might eventually be found in the candy. Once we collectively adopt this belief, we start giving up whole aspects of our potential for one temporary pleasure or impulse after another. In contrast, when we know our happiness doesn’t really dwell inside the candy, then we use our energies to work toward a better future.
If we want to turn the corner and make progress with the problems that are growing before us, we will also need to challenge our attitude about the value of being right. We will need to shift our priority away from being right, and toward getting it right. We will need to observe attentively, instead of cherry picking the information that complements our own point of view. We will need to pay attention to new information and research findings that defy our expectations.
We will need to question the groups and organizations that make us comfortable, and that we normally agree with based upon our political leaning, our race, education level, religion, personal preferences, etc. We will need to stop making kneejerk assumptions about how everything works. This means asking hard questions. It means questioning information that is convenient and comfortable. It means continuing to inquire until we have arrived at something solid.
And finally, to address the problems at hand we will have to become better at understanding how things work, and predicting whether specific choices will lead to outcomes we want. This will require some creativity, and is the focus of the remainder of this book. From the personal to the national, the changes we will need to make may be difficult. They may be frightening. On the other hand, if you look at where things are headed now, where do you think we’ll end up if we don’t make some fundamental changes? Plus, is there anything more worthwhile than creating a much better future for yourself, your family, and your nation?
Next we begin to look very fundamentally at how things work.