Read widely so you can figure out what’s going to happen next.
I just started listening to an audio book called The Next 100 Years by George Friedman. I've only listened to the first 3 hours, so I don't know yet if I can recommend it. He gives a quick insightful overview of history for the pragmatic purpose of predicting the next 100 years. I completely think it’s crazy to even predict next year, but Friedman gives us a macro view. He looks at population trends, geo-politics, and overall ambitions of countries.
The one point he makes which I found instructive is the life cycle of cultures:
1. Barbarism- the belief that ones own view points are the best views and trying to get everyone to agree with you. There is a zest for making an impact in the world.
2. Civilized – accepting others as just as valid as you, while still holding into truths
3. Decadent – thinking that believing in anything is foolish
America is in the first stage. We Americans are always predicting doom and demise of America. It’s because we are in the adolescent phase. It’s practically the American way to believe we are about to fall apart.
The third phase is where the culture gets lax. They stop thinking that they know best and stop trying to impact those around them. They stop taking risks or trying new things. They start withdrawing and losing their zest for life. Becoming so cynical that nothing matters anymore.
As a country the best thing is to be civilized while holding down their beliefs, but its tough to stay there.
Friedman makes a case that America is firmly at the beginning of its power and in the barbarism phase. Some of his reasons include the following:
1. The second largest country’s economy is Japan’s at 5,068,894 but the United States is 14,119,050.
2. Our military controls the all the Earth’s oceans. If anyone in the world wants to send anything anywhere, the US military knows and allows it.
So he could be right about our country's constant fear of impending doom as just being a cultural thing, or we could be really on the edge of demise. Who can say?
So far the book has been great, but I’ll let you know how the rest of it turns out.