Care for a Bit More Progress, Darling?

One of the reasons why liberals are so shocked by the election of Donald Trump to the presidency is that it seems to violate their notions of “inevitable progress”. After all, just before Trump was elected, we saw huge sea changes in attitudes towards the rights of gays to live like straight folks. And we just elected the first black president. And America just got an expansion of access to health care. Shouldn’t we have seen more progress than this apparent rejection of progress?

Of course, this feeling reflects a rather simplistic understanding of progress in a historical sense. The process is far more complex than we can understand while we are busy doing the work of living. And so while there are “great forces” that affect progress, and individual actors who also impact how things play out, the various interactions between beliefs, relationships, communications, etc. often lead to unexpected results. I think the election of Donald Trump is one of those unexpected results.

I highly recommend the linked article above because it addresses the question how we should understand our love/hate relationship with change and progress. And I would encourage all who have an interest in this to consider several rather basic concepts

  • when we cannot know the outcome of a given situation, we have cognitive tools that helps us make better decisions about what to do in light of that uncertainty. It is called strategic thinking
  • Strategic thinking is not something we are born with. It is instead a skill set and we can become better strategists if we understand the model and practice.
  • Given how the pace of change is accelerating, we will need higher levels of strategic thinking or we may find ourselves in deep doodoo.

I use the word “dooddo” in a technical sense. What I mean to say is that we may be royally screwed.

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