Or “Stay The Course?”

 There is an old joke about a man, who asks a stranger the way to Edinburgh,                               to which the stranger replies: “If I were going there, I wouldn’t start from here.”

Today, if I were deciding where this country should go, I wouldn’t want to start from where we are. Here is not where I want us to be. But here is where we are and where we must start from. Wherever we decide to go, we have to start from where we are. The important question is: Is where we are today where we want to be? The answer clearly is, yes and no. In other words, some people do want to be where we are; they will want to stay the course. Others do not want to be where we are; they will want to go in a different direction.

So the decision is: Do we continue going where we are going or do we change direction?  To make a wise decision, we will need to know where we are now, and know where we want to be. I wonder how many of the voting public in America know the answers. We live in a democracy; deciding where to go is decided by the majority of the people. Herein lies the problem; pleasing everyone. In American democracy, we never please everyone. The majority wins; the minority loses. Both the majority and minority in a democracy make decisions based on common biases.

Knowing where you are presents a problem.

If where you are is good for you but not for others, or is bad for you but good for others, you are likely to employ two kinds of cognitive biases. Personally congenial biases: confirmation bias, self-serving bias, expectancy bias, perceptual bias. Socially congenial biases:bandwagon bias, in-group bias, group think and tribalism. This is a potential problem for everyone.

Knowing where you want to be presents a problem.

Where you want to be involves the future. Therefore, you have to imagine the future you want, and then decide how to create it. This is a two-step decision making process. The first step requires an unbiased imagination. This first step is a potential problem for everyone because of the same self-serving biases.

The second step is the bigger problem. Creating a positive future for everyone would be the most desirable future for everyone. But everyone includes the majority and the minority. With different points of view. This means everyone doesn’t rule; the minority doesn’t rule. A positive future for everyone probably won’t exist.

A democracy of the people, by the people, for the people should probably read: Of most of the people, by most of the people, for most of the people. By definition, democracy always has winners and losers. The majority and the minority. Everyone never wins.

 Democracy is a device that insures we shall be governed                                                             no better than we deserve. George Bernard Shaw



This entry was posted in Democracy in Danger. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

  1. Beth Lyon says:

    Right. But Trump should describe to the public exactly what his wall would be. And the democrats should say exactly what they propose for border security instead

  2. Cynthia Schroeder says:

    Ah, HB, this is a well-written, perplexing, and for me poignant piece you have sent out here. There is something deeply challenging as well, of course. And I also find myself grieving the ‘State of the Union” as it is unfolding under thus President and administration.
    The introductory joke speaks to your good humor, and the last quote speaks to me of your thoughtfulness. Thank you for sharing this. PS: We are well up here in the Inland Empire of the Northwest. Spring is wonderful, as always, and I have a good deal of motivation to keep up with garden work which I love (just like Mom did!). I am going to my 50th college reunion this wknd. Hard to believe…Careful I am going to catch up with you, you who soon will be 90…what?? Oh my goodness, dear HB!

    • hbgelatt says:


      I was so good to hear from you. Although I was surprised because that blog was written in January. Thanks for the positive response.

      By the way I will be 93 in June.

      H B


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.