The Importance of the Now
tHe PolItICAl rHetorIC has reached a predictable level of
shrillness, and the presidential election is still six months away. this
election already is being billed as the most crucial election of our
lifetime. I won’t argue the importance of any election. but I’d like to
add some perspective to what I’ll call “the importance of the now.”
Earth is roughly 4. 5 billion years old.
Some cursory Internet research yielded
the following. Jellyfish may be the longest
surviving creatures on Earth, having a
direct ancestor approximately 650 million
years ago. Dinosaurs appeared about 320
million years ago and disappeared around
65 million years ago. Homo sapiens is a
relative whippersnapper, first emerging
about 100,000 years ago. The earliest
recorded history dates back only 5,000
or 6,000 years.
Immense numbers are difficult to
grasp, so imagine a football field, with
one goal line being the birth of Earth and
the other goal line being today.
■ ■ Jellyfish would appear 85 yards
away from the goal line representing
■ ■ Dinosaurs would start on the near
five-yard line and stop 1. 5 yards from
today’s goal line.
■ ■ Homo sapiens would become visible
about . 1 inch from the goal line.
■ ■ Recorded history would be less than
the thickness of a blade of grass
immediately next to the goal line.
I’m on the board of directors of our
mountain community. We recently held
a budget preparation meeting open to all
property owners that would determine
the dues for the next year. Passions were
high over the question of whether our
annual dues would increase by $65 or
by $85. What difference does $20 a year
make in the grand scheme of things? The
importance of the now prevailed over
civility and deliberation.
Passions run high at the national level
also. Republicans and Democrats have
dramatically different visions for the
country’s long-term issues like health care,
Social Security, and Medicare. Each party
advocates its approach as the only viable
solution and demonizes that of the other
party. Yes, each of these issues deserves
careful analysis. The Academy made an
important contribution to that end by de-
veloping its Campaign 2012 Toolkit series,
an objective appraisal of the most common
proposals. Neither political party, howev-
er, is likely to consider any of the Toolkit’s
options that are anathema to its base.
The importance of the now—winning the
next election—prevails over addressing
Medicare and Social Security’s long-term
issues in a thoughtful manner.
Steve dInInno / IMAGeS.CoM
Each party advocates
as the only viable solution
and demonizes that
of the other party.