As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, the fast moving events are amazing us at one end of the spectrum and alarming us on the other. In America, things are getting unpredictable and uncertain. Everyone is rather confused; even the recognized all-knowing pundits are puzzled. The traditional paradigm of thinking and inking are not working.
We are at the end of our creative thinking.
And we are at a loss as to what is going to be the new thinking or the new future.
Joshua Ramo’s book The Age of Unthinkable comes to my mind. We are more developed and advanced (at least we think so), and yet we are more unable to solve our problems.
According to a USA Today/Gallup Poll, three-fourths of the participants indicated they don’t like the way things are going in America. Is this just outward frustration with life or is there some inner meaning? I am not a fan of polling; it is momentary in nature. But when you look at data for a long period of time – it may give some indications and trends. So what are the trends?
Most of the trends in data are not indicating a rosy future for us Americans. Again, data is also the result of a major policy shift (in both government and business) that has taken a long time. America’s worst enemy is its status quo nature.
The basic fundamentals that America is following for the last half-century very likely are not working. And we are not ready to change in a fundamental way. This is historical irony.
As the United States became a more and more advanced and unique society after World War II, we postponed (or rather, left unsolved) some of our domestic fundamentals, such as health care, retirement, unemployment, education, housing and environmental issues.
Also, we took on the burden of the largest defense expenditure in history.
We did not realize that the above mentioned issues would haunt us afterward. Add to that the federal debt crisis and most of the state governments’ budget deficits.
It looks like we need a new paradigm of thoughts. Ethnocentric nation state thinking is possibly an obsolete idea. We need to think globally, even if we don’t like it. We are all global citizens – think about the same basic things that we use everyday – from morning to night.
We need to learn more from other societies and understand how they are solving their domestic problems of health care, retirement, education and foreign policy.
This is how things should change: we need to raise and educate a generation of young Americans who can generate new ideas to solve our domestic and global problems.
We need young men and women with unorthodox thinking processes – ideas of inclusiveness, not divisiveness.
We need an America where youths have a global perspective and a broad human desire to uplift all – locally, nationally, and globally. We need to solve the problems of world through dialogue.
We need a new paradigm of creative thinking. The American schools and colleges of today harness the platform for facing this new American challenge.
Nasir Ahmed is a professor of public administration in the GSU Political Science Department.