Thursday, 17 June 2010
Long term, short term.
On the one hand this, news of the easing of the land blockade by Israel, on the other hand this, from President Assad of Syria, telling us that the dangers of war are much increased.
In the long run we are all dead, said Keynes and Israel / Palestine, is comparatively speaking, a long run. We know that many lives will be sacrificed in that long run and what attitude any of us take to such loss depends on our view of long runs. I suspect that the general Israeli view of the partial relieving of the land blockade might be that it will make no difference to Arab-Israeli relations, let alone Hamas-Israeli relations, except possibly to make them worse, because the easing of a blockade is not the tiniest fraction of the long-term-aim of the Arab street, let alone Hamas, that being the obliteration of Israel. The general Israeli view may well be right on this. Given the still living memory of the Holocaust, both short-term and long-term instincts are intensified, leading, necessarily to tension. So the issue of the captive Israeli soldier Gilead Shalit is both short-term and long-term
Europeans tend, generally speaking, to be short term on things like individual human life. We live in short breaths, with short memories and the desire for fifteen minutes of fame. Each short term loss, especially the loss of human life, gives us pause and makes us question our strategy in the next short-term.
In cultures where suicide bombing is encouraged there must be a preference for long-term thinking and feeling.
Short-termism is generally a fault. It leads to financial crises, among other things. Long-termism means never forgetting the slightest insult and never yielding. Or pretty close to never.
Long-termism is obliged to compromise of course, but it is generally stronger, except in the arena of individual human life, that it might regard, on occasion, to be dispensable.
So one might understand President Assad's statement as long term rather than short term, whereas the easing of border restrictions is short term rather than long term.
In the very long run, let us say in terms of sidereal time, the planet too is pretty short-term. Meanwhile (and all poetry is located in that meanwhile) there is a very agitated bird protesting just over the beautifully sunlit flint-and-brick wall of our tiny yard. Probably a blackbird warning off an intruder or some other danger. How short term is that? How short-term am I, or these words?