What is your outlook?

Question: Will we be able to make the necessary adjustments?

Walt: Well I think that’s a very American question. I mean I think that many societies wouldn’t even pose it that way. And it reflects the fact that American history, although it’s had its unfortunate periods, has been basically an incredibly happy story. Again not for all Americans, but if you think of sort of where the United States began in 1776 and where it ended up in 2007, it’s a remarkable run of success. And it’s partly because we did some things right. And it’s also partly because we got very lucky in where the country was located; the fact that the native population turned out to be very susceptible to disease that was brought over from Europe; the fact that the European countries kept beating each other up while we sat here and became more productive. So we’ve been very fortunate, so we have this view of the world that everything tends to go well. And therefore your question is how can we solve all these problems so this happy story continues? Well of course it hasn’t been as happy a story for, you know, Russia throughout the 20th century; for much of Europe, which destroyed itself twice in the 20th century. Other parts of the world don’t tell quite the same happy story. So I think the first thing I would say is we shouldn’t be expecting perfection. We’re not gonna be solving all these problems, and it’s not like bad things won’t happen to Americans or to other people. We wanna try to do the best we can within the . . . facing the set of problems that we now face, and with the set of resources at our disposal. So step one is be realistic about what we think we can accomplish, and then start, you know, taking off the various problems and start working on them. I think Americans, again, tend to think of it as, “I want a perfect answer because I’m an American citizen, and I’m entitled to live for 85 years in relatively good health and in a pretty comfortable house with a pretty nice family.” That’s not the way it really works – even in America.

Recorded on: 10/8/07

 

 

 

 

We shouldn't be expecting perfection, Walt says.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

People who engage in fat-shaming tend to score high in this personality trait

A new study explores how certain personality traits affect individuals' attitudes on obesity in others.

Pixabay
Mind & Brain
  • The study compared personality traits and obesity views among more than 3,000 mothers.
  • The results showed that the personality traits neuroticism and extraversion are linked to more negative views and behaviors related to obesity.
  • People who scored high in conscientiousness are more likely to experience "fat phobia.
Keep reading Show less

The most culturally chauvinist people in Europe? Greeks, new research suggests

Meanwhile, Spaniards are the least likely to say their culture is superior to others.

Image: Pew Research Center
Strange Maps
  • Survey by Pew Research Center shows great variation in chauvinism across Europe.
  • Eight most chauvinist countries are in the east, and include Russia.
  • British much more likely than French (and slightly more likely than Germans) to say their culture is "superior" to others.
Keep reading Show less

Reigning in brutality - how one man's outrage led to the Red Cross and the Geneva Conventions

The history of the Geneva Conventions tells us how the international community draws the line on brutality.

Napoleon III at the Battle of Solferino. Painting by Adolphe Yvon. 1861.
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Henry Dunant's work led to the Red Cross and conventions on treating prisoners humanely.
  • Four Geneva Conventions defined the rules for prisoners of war, torture, naval and medical personnel and more.
  • Amendments to the agreements reflect the modern world but have not been ratified by all countries.
Keep reading Show less