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—Friedrich Nietzsche, via Nietzsche Family Circus
There’s a conversation that the Western world should be having all the time, every day, and isn’t. The conversation is about this: The impacts of our decisions – both little, everyday ones and big, corporate and democratic ones – are huge. They touch the whole world and some last for hundreds or thousands of years. But the criteria we use to make these decisions is usually small, mostly focused on the people and places closest to us in the very short term.
For instance, every time we accept a plastic bag at the grocery checkout counter, we think only of easily getting our groceries to our cars. We don’t think of where the petroleum to make the bag came from, or who made the bag, or where it will end up and for how long once we (even after 2 or 3 extra uses) throw it out. But we should.
Because of this asymmetry we end up making choices that have good small-scale outcomes but bad large-scale outcomes, especially when billions of people are making them. Hence climate change, resource depletion, pollution, species extinction, the obesity epidemic, social security’s coming collapse, etc.
This is a small beginning to a big conversation. I hope you’ll join us.