“Our systems are too slow for our reality” from For The Weekend…March 25, 2022

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Our systems are too slow for our reality

Looking back over my 58-year lifetime I can see one, large, problem with today’s world. Our systems — governmental, political, economic — have become too slow and unwieldy for the world we live in. Despite their slow evolution over time, reality has far outpaced these systems’ ability to accommodate and react to the largest problems we face. We see this every day now, it seems. Whether we are talking about our reactions to the COVID Pandemic, January 6th Insurrection, Climate Change, or the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we see events quickly overrunning our ability to cope and react in a rational, yet quick, way.

Long term solutions when rapid solutions are necessary

Looking at Ukraine especially, our immediate responses were appropriate but fail to provide much, if any, relief in the meantime. Sanctions can help. Weapons and other aid can help, but these take time, energy — and often, politics — before they have their greatest effect. Meanwhile, people die. Our ability to react to this single, important, fact is a horrendous failure.

It is 2022 and we are still at a loss about how to handle a rogue leader or country who is determined to wage war on another country. With Ukraine, we are looking at a duplicate of Germany’s invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1938. One leader, along with a fraction of the people, decides that their lives are worth more than others and will risk ant costs to achieve their goals. That invasion quickly led to the genocide of entire populations.

Yet, here we are. Our attempts at diplomacy — like Chamberlain’s — have failed because the aggressor cares nothing for sovereignty or human rights. Like any great bully, they will continue escalating their attacks until they are stopped. We have seen this all before, and yet we are making the same mistakes again.

One would hope that we had developed new, effective, ways of stopping war, but instead, our systems grind out the same solutions at the same slow pace. A vote here. A condemnation there. An economic sanction applied. It is frustrating to me — and deadly to the world.

It isn’t just the large things

While life and death situations are certainly the most pressing, we experience similar failures on a very personal level. The January 6th Commission continues to hold hearings over a year since the insurrection, and some individuals have been held responsible for their crimes, be we still don’t see the deep, fundamental, change we need to see in addressing the insurrection and the deep causes of division in the country.

We can talk all we want, but action is needed now. Leaders are needed now. As a people and country, we cannot wait. As a world, we cannot wait and those dying around the world cannot wait.

We can’t even seem to act against the smallest — yet costly — annoyances of our daily lives. We are bombarded with spam, lose our privacy to surveillance, and allow corporatism to control our lives in ever-increasing ways.

Laws are slow to be proposed, slow to debate, and slow to pass. In some cases, topics cannot even be discussed because politicians find them too toxic to their re-election. So, to ensure they keep their job, the problems continue. Too often, change is slow or stopped by relatively few people instead of serving the democratic majority, as intended. Our current systems seem almost designed to prevent progress and leadership instead of aiding them.

Governing for the future should be done by those who will live in it

Another aspect of this slowing is the relative age of those who are supposed to represent us. When a representative of any form is no longer able to understand the realities of how our modern world operates they become a detriment to the system. In the case of the Internet, for example, we have people with no clear understanding of how it works overseeing it. Even at age 58, I can clearly see where many in Congress today have fundamental knowledge better suited to 1962 than 2022. Yes, certain truisms remain in business and government, but most are thrown on the scrap heap in a decade or so. Yet, many still hold onto the ideologies of when they were first elected. This serves no one well — especially future generations, who will have to live in this stagnated, slow-moving, world.

In the coming days, weeks, and years, we need leaders who will attack our moribund systems, but national and globally, and develop them into systems that can react both quickly and over the long term. Otherwise, it is very possible that the long term won’t be a world worth living in.

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