The Future of Change
So the first biological lesson of history is that life is competition. Competition is not only the life of trade, it is the trade of life – peaceful when food abounds, violent when the mouths outrun the food. Animals eat one another with out qualm; civilized men consume one another by due process of law.
-Will and Ariel Durant,
The Lessons of History
An Off-Handed CommentA friend of mine made an off-handed comment to me the other day. I generally try to keep my opinions to myself (when not writing), but we were drinking and in my inebriation I gave expression to my fears of the future. He justified his lack of fear by pointing out that we could be wiped out by a tsunami, struck by an asteroid, blown up in a nuclear war, civilization could collapse, or global warming could wipe us out, but we’re here now and none of that stuff has ever happened. He was just thankful to be alive.
While I applaud the serenity of that view, I recoil from the ignorance of it. If all those outcomes were equally probable, then I would agree that he has exactly the right attitude. However, I view global warming as an established fact at this point. The economy, in my view, is collapsing; slowly right now, but it’s beginning to pick up speed. Nuclear war is unlikely in the immediate future, an asteroid is extremely unlikely, and a tsunami is an impossibility for our area.
The Right Approach to the Future
Many people become depressed and feel helpless when seriously contemplating the future and how it will affect them. I think most people shy away from that mental effort because of the bleak picture it paints. However, focusing too hard on the compounding problems of the future is just as much a mistake as ignoring them completely. I have come to believe that the right path is to prepare your life to profit from any likely outcome.
- For instance, how would your life be impacted by economic collapse? How would it be impacted if healthy historical growth rates continued? Is there any way to prepare your life for both extremes?
- How would severe global warming affect your local geographical area and way of life? What would your life be like if global warming is not too severe? The point is to consider both scenarios carefully, so that you can benefit from either outcome.
The idea that economic collapse or global warming could be anything less than a major setback in our lives is a foreign concept. But change is a neutral term. In any societal shift, some people benefit and some lose. Many areas of the earth will become more pleasant to live in due to global warming. An economic collapse does not have to mean a collapse of your life. The wise investor hedges his bets, minimizes his losses, and diversifies his investments to minimize risk. These ideas should be applied to all aspects of our lives.All around me I see people not preparing for an economically difficult future. I fear that a quiet epidemic of learned helplessness and generations of financial prosperity have eliminated people’s ability to tilt the odds in their favor through long term planning. We fail to plan because we are so used to being powerless. We shy away from life changes because they are uncomfortable. It’s far easier to wait for disaster to strike and then react. Reacting in advanced requires cunning, but it is the cunning animals that survive the best.
I am fond of saying that my boat is my solution to all the problems in the world. If the economy improves, then my wife and I are poised to enjoy an early retirement aboard our floating home in the San Juan Islands. If our economy collapses, I am equipped to feed, protect, and shelter my family with little to no income. I am prepared for either scenario. I win either way. My dream of living a healthy life in the San Juan Islands has been built on solid foundation of planning and preparation.
A Passion For The Future
I’m passionate about the future…. Or more specifically, I am passionate about predicting the large future events which will occur in my lifetime. It has been said that the best way to predict the future is to understand the past.
This brings me back to the quote by Will and Ariel Durant at the top of this post. Mankind’s reverence for life (both human and non-human) is higher than it has ever been in our recorded history, and that gives me hope. However, change is on the horizon. We can debate what it will look like, but change, any significant change, has always been preceded by violence throughout our history. The bigger the change, the more pronounced the violence. And the challenges to our economy and environment represent very large changes.
It is mankind’s past, the problems of the present, and the austerity of the future that inspires such passion in me. It motivates me to plan carefully and react now, so that I am better equipped for the future. It is my hope that my life and this blog will inspire others to prepare too.
Join the Discussion
What is your vision of the future? What steps have you taken (or plan to take) to prepare for that future? Please share your comments!