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  • Writer's pictureAdrian Emery

myopic vision

As a medical term, myopia, means near-sightedness. It is a vision condition in which people can see close objects clearly, but objects farther away appear blurred. Myopia occurs if the eyeball is too long, or the cornea is too curved.

In colloquial language, myopic vision has become synonymous with short sightedness or a lack of long-term perspective which now dominates western political and business strategic thinking. The 3- or 4-year election cycle and the 12-month financial reporting cycle have led to a peculiar strategic outlook where the long game is sacrificed for short term gain.

It is hard for us to appreciate that this is a very recent historical phenomena that runs completely contra to the evolutionary imperative that drives life. Life is always playing the long game in terms of thousands and millions of years. Modern western human is lucky if they can see beyond tomorrow’s breakfast!

We can see the disastrous effects of this blurred vision in all aspects of our lives from the most macroscopic global to the most intimate and personal. Climate change, global warming, environmental degradation, global debt, global conflict and war, geopolitical tension, trade wars, currency wars, the breakdown in respect for and belief in the political class and noble leadership are the hallmarks of our era and define our current zeitgeist.

Current economic activity is obsessed with short-term profit at the expense of true customer service and producing goods and services of quality that deliver lasting satisfaction and joy to consumers. We all know and expect things to ‘break’ or become dysfunctional all too quickly after purchase. Pleasant customer service is a thing of the past. Fit for purpose? What is that?

But these are not the most dangerous aspects of myopic vision. There is an even greater risk facing humanity of failing to see the forest for the trees. We are so fixed on our personal daily lives and transfixed by the current epoch, we fail to grasp the longer-term cycles that are operating beneath the surface bringing the impending storm. We have experienced the ‘good times’ for so long now, we simply do not believe they will ever change.

With the constant interference of the federal reserve system throughout the whole of the western world creating ever more debt and the printing of trillions of fiat currency, we have come to believe the party will go on for ever. We have become drunk on our own indulgence.

But if one takes the long view, and looks beyond the fog of blurred vision, one will see that this has never been – there is always the day of reckoning when debts need to be paid and the ledger needs to be put back in balance whether that pertains to the Earth’s noosphere or the global debt.

Every empire from the ancient past has tried to borrow its way out of difficulty and failed. Money printing and inflation have always exacted their due with the eventual collapse of that ruling empire giving way to the newly arriving power. The new kid on the block.

In 1997, historians William Strauss and Neil Howe released a book called The Fourth Turning which focuses on the long game suggesting that history goes through a saeculum every 80–100 years. A saeculum is simply a long period or age. Each saeculum consists of four stages or turnings. They are the High, Awakening, Unravelling, and Crisis. And these turnings happen like clockwork – every time.

Each cycle begins with a post-crisis High. This is a renewal of community life, period of stability, and recognition of the things lost in the preceding crisis. The most recent High was the 1950s. That’s when the world rebuilt itself after World War II, America solidified itself as one of the world’s superpowers and the baby-boomer generation began its massive influence on the world.

The second turning is the Awakening when the mood shifts to defiance and spiritual discoveries: the 1970s and the hippie movement, beginning with the Woodstock festival and the rejection of the Vietnam War. The baby boomers began to flex their collective muscle.

The third turning is an Unravelling when people grow more distant from one another and become more individualistic and materialistic: the 'greed is good' of the 1980’s that peaked with the dot-com bubble in the late 1990’s and the everything bubble of the current era. Baby boomers began to become very wealthy and the global elite began to flex their muscles in the pandemic.

The fourth turning is the Crisis period. This is an era of upheaval when the values regime replaces the old civic order with a new one. This is ushered in by a period of economic disruption, social discontent and is usually completed with a major conflict. This period began with the Great Recession of 2007. Over half the world is now in some form of armed conflict or war. Global public debt has increased more than fourfold since the year 2000 (from 22 to 92 trillion USD) clearly outpacing global GDP, which only tripled over the same period of time.

The wheel is turning…stay tuned.

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