Our Leaders Could Use Some Peripheral Vision.
The two most prominent pieces of advice Dad gave me in my teens were “marriage is a compromise” and “keep your options open.” For a young mind, this wisdom seemed to be at war with itself, but with a few years behind me now, I’ve come to realize that paradoxes and juxtapositions are the most interesting parts of life. Jung suggested maturity was about “holding the tensions of the opposites.”
The young mind is exceedingly focused but doesn’t often see the collateral benefits and costs of the decisions they’re considering. The older mind has developed the pattern recognition to imagine the less obvious tradeoffs that come with key life decisions.
We sure could use some peripheral vision right now as leaders and everyday people are faced with such daunting choices. Open up schools? Allow professional or college sports this fall? Relocate to a rural home? Of course, hope you’re listening, Mitch, succeeding RBG on the Supreme Court. And, create a national policy on sheltering in place? It’s not surprising that a public health official and an economist might have vastly different perspectives as they focus on what they know best.
Work is more than a way to make a living. It’s a daily organizing principle and a social crucible. It creates structure and community. You could say the same thing about schools. So, if public health precautions require that we move into a lockdown mode in the future, I hope our leaders will help offer some new rituals, habits, and education that allow us to value our people's mental health and wealth. The collateral costs need to be considered. Our process, so far, has been so haphazardly myopic in terms of its vision.
It's time our society invests in the programs that will help soften the collateral costs and amplify the collateral benefits from these decisions.
How do you consider the collateral costs and benefits of the decisions you make?
And, here’s my advice to Mitch McConnell.