Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Small Steps To Big Change

To bring about the big changes necessary to spare us from the worst prospects of global warming, we naturally look to big ideas and new technologies to lead the way. New fleets of energy efficient cars, solar arrays spreading across every rooftop, wouldn't it be grand? Unfortunately, all these wondrous changes have yet to materialize, and there simply isn't time to wait. Change in the double digits--20%, 30% or more--has to happen now, not ten years from now.

To bring about big changes, and fast, we must preoccupy our large brains with a multitude of small things--an unused light on in the next room, wearing warmer clothes rather than cranking the heat, combining errands to reduce time on the road. During the Cold War, we thought the end would come in one fell swoop of nuclear holocaust. Now, we know the world is more likely to be undone by the accumulation of miniscule acts perpetrated by countless innocents, upstanding citizens all, as we go about our everyday business of staying fed and comfortable and entertained.

This does not mean we become small-minded. Rather, it requires seeing small acts as the expression of big ideas. In realizing that the seemingly insignificant actions that constitute much of our days are part of a very big problem, we may lose our innocence but gain a sense of personal power to change what is within our power to change, and so alter the destiny of a very large planet.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Danger of Peace and Prosperity

It will be no surprise if today's voter turnout surpasses all records. When things go so wrong, as they have in the last eight years, people respond. If the next administration is able to put the nation on a more positive trajectory, problems will ease, and so will voter interest. The real test of a nation's sustainability is if people show up to vote when things are going well.

We've seen what happens when peace and prosperity rein. To fill the void in bad news, the news media and the opposition party focus in on petty scandal, the work and skill that go into careful stewardship of government and the economy goes unheralded and unappreciated, and before you know it, people begin voting for whomever they'd feel comfortable drinking a beer with.

The next president faces a huge task in repairing the damage done by incompetent leaders. But equally important is making the nation less likely to elect poor leaders in the future.