The Good Ancestor

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A call to save ourselves and our planet by targeting the root of our inaction: extreme short-sightedness

“The most important question we must ask ourselves is: Are we being good ancestors?” So said Jonas Salk, who cured polio in 1953. Salk saved millions of lives, but he refused to patent his cure or make any money from it. His radical rethinking of what we owe future generations should be an inspiration to us all, but it has hardly taken hold: Businesses can barely see past the next quarter; politicians can’t see past the next election. Markets spike, then they crash in speculative bubbles. We rarely stop to consider whether we’re being good ancestors . . . but the future depends on it.

Here, leading public intellectual, philosopher, and bestselling author Roman Krznaric explains six practical ways we can retrain our brains to save our future—such as adopting Deep Time Humility (recognizing our lives as a cosmic eyeblink) and Cathedral Thinking (starting projects that will take more than one lifetime to complete). His aim is to inspire a “time rebellion”—to shift our allegiance from our generation only to all humanity, present and future.