Why is it that every political contest is always "the most important election of our lifetimes", according to the candidates involved? Sure, they're trying to get out the vote (on their side), and exaggeration is one way to attract attention.

But another reason is a peculiar human nearsightedness, a natural fixation on what's close at hand. Hence, the universal tendency to care more about one's self and immediate family than one's neighbors ... more about one's neighbors than distant countrymen ... more about one's countrymen than people elsewhere ... and more about people than members of other species. This often makes good sense: it's usually easier to Do Good locally than it is to influence faraway events for the better. But there also needs to be some balance, some attention paid to important things that happen to be farther away in space and time than the next election ...

(see also ChangingSelves (20 May 1999), WhatCounts (24 Nov 1999), CenturyHence (1 Sep 2002), CompassionateCarnivorism (19 Nov 2002), ... )

TopicSociety - TopicThinking - 2004-07-19

(correlates: ConstantCrisis, LearningFromAdversity, LeverAge, ...)