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March 28th, 2020
The future is unprecedented, by default.
Our normal way of preparing for tomorrow is by looking at yesterday and today and assuming that tomorrow is going to be a simple repetition that involves aspects of the two. For the majority of tomorrows, this strategy is ok, but as per the future, a tomorrow is going to come along that looks unlike anything in the past that we’ve yet seen. Many people are cluing into this subtle fact.
On aspect of the unprecedented event is that it forces us to set new precedents. Not only is the novel event a new precedent, but it evokes a new response from us. This response becomes the new default for this kind of event.
Unless, of course, we learn from our original mistake, which was to assume that the future is going to be like the past. The fact that our response has to change in the first place to some new event should make it obvious that our inability or unwillingness to overreact in the past has left us vulnerable to an unprecedented tomorrow.
The lesson is simple: any new precedents we set should be overreactions by design, because we are not simply trying to solve the current problem, we are using the current problem as inspiration to imagine something much more difficult. If the precedents we set are overreactions to the current issue then we have a chance to be more prepared for the future.
This applies to just about every level of systems we can think of. Whether that be a global response, or a local one, or even on a family level and even on an individual level.
Tragedy is possible in each of these arenas. Our response determines the level of our adaptation, and our ability to adapt is everything. But there comes a point when the unprecedented is of such a level of impact that no degree of adaptation can get us out of the situation. . .
unless of course we had the foresight and the courage to imagine it, and prepare for something that might always remain a fiction.