Make Up Your Mind?

As I age, I find myself becoming increasingly indecisive – two minds trapped in the same head. I still feel strongly about a great many things, but I no longer possess the certitude that my position on any given issue is correct.

There are those who talk about old people being set in their ways, but I’ve noticed a lot of older folks who, while being rather sedentary and definitely creatures of habit, are not that rigid in their thought processes.

Sure, some seniors become more decisive, knowing what they want from the world and believing they know exactly how to get it. but there’s another large group that aren’t sure what they want or (assuming they do know what they want) they aren’t certain what actions they ought to take to achieve their goals.

For example, it’s pretty clear that the climate is changing due to human influence and that we ought to do what we can to prevent catastrophic swings in temperature and precipitation. But are we really at the crisis stage? Maybe, maybe not.

Based on the warnings issued decades ago, we should already have encountered some pretty terrible consequences and yet many of us haven’t.

Yes, we’ve lost some species, while others are critically endangered. But we’ve also come up with some new and radical solutions to problems we didn’t anticipate back then, like injecting carbon dioxide into the ground or water to neutralize it.

We’ve also made great strides in battery technology and renewable energy, so it seems likely that we’ll continue to make progress in these areas as the future unfolds. These feats were accomplished despite the fact that we collectively didn’t consider the “climate crisis” to be an emergency.

Am I saying we don’t need to worry about climate change at all? Absolutely not. We definitely need to make serious alterations to our lifestyles and soon. But perhaps we have more time than we fear we have. I don’t know. And I don’t think anyone else really knows for sure either.

People have guesses, as well as informed opinions, but none of us can truly know the future – what terrors it will bring; what successes. This holds true for every major problem we face: the pandemic; rising nationalism and xenophobia; economic inequality. We may know what results we want but we can’t be certain of the correct actions to take to get there.

Nor can we be certain that a given result will occur for actions we don’t take. We think bad things will happen if we don’t act on climate change now, but we can’t be absolutely sure because we might take other actions later that might mitigate any harm caused by our inaction now.

The world is a complicated place, and the more I realize that, the less sure I become of what I ought to do to achieve the results I believe are beneficial. So if you see me on the street looking lost, don’t worry. It’s just my natural state.

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