The Arrogance Of Instant.
Ours has been called the information age. And it is likely the defining characteristic of the times we live in.
Truly a marvel.
We are able to communicate around the globe. Talking to faraway friends and family instantly. In the same manner, we take in news and information worldwide. Want to know how the Istanbul Stock Market is doing? Easy, there’s probably an app for that. Want to know how weather conditions are in Nairobi. No problem.
There can be no question that we are the most well-informed people in all of history. At our fingertips is: data, opinion, and reporting all in the style and format of modern media.
It is quite an array. And it’s all instant.
Many have said it’s overwhelming. In fact, that’s become a cliché. But in reality, I don’t think that’s the real issue.
The real issue is what we then do, with that information?. What do we assume that it provides for us?
Because the great decisions that we must make, as individuals and as a nation, should be arrived at only after deliberate consideration, our best judgment. And that takes time.
There is a reason that juries are asked to deliberate. Take their time, and consider all of the relevant facts. But today deliberation is passe in the world of the instant.
And it has cost us as a nation dearly.
Let me tell you a story. A story of how we became mired in the Viet Nam War. The place was the Gulf of Tonkin, just offshore from Viet Nam. The date was August 2nd, 1964. And the incident, as it became known, was the attack on the USS Maddox, an American warship. An attack by the North Vietnamese.
At the moment, we saw the damage. The then-president, Lyndon Johnson, was quick to tell us that it was an entirely unprovoked attack on an American ship in open water.
In short an act of war. Johnson responded instantly (there’s that word again). And before anyone could have a second thought, we were indeed at war. A war that would cost this country dearly in lives and fortune.
To this day, historians still debate what really happened that fateful afternoon in the Gulf of Tonkin. But before the debate could even begin, we were already committed.
Now, to a keen observer of recent American history, it is a pattern that repeats often.
The War in Iraq, the American incursions in Libya, and Syria. And most recently the affair in Afghanistan. With the possible exception of Kuwait. Seemingly all of our military incursions recently follow this “instant judgment,” “quick-to-act” scenario.
Just over a week ago, Russia invaded Ukraine. In that time, we have slapped some of the toughest sanctions ever on Russia.
The American Press has united in calling for a condemnation of Russia.
The Department of Justice has begun a complete investigation into Russian businessmen.
The White House has asked for billions to be sent to Ukraine in various aid packages.
And at least one Senator has asked for a Senate condemnation of Russia. While another Senator has recommended that Putin be assassinated
Not bad for a week. You wouldn’t want to miss out on the “condemn Russia train.”
But seriously, is this how a reasonable nation acts? Are we exercising considered judgment?
Or are we just jumping in front of a cascading press event? Designed to show everyone that “we know what we’re doing.”