Jeffrey Saltzman's Blog

Enhancing Organizational Performance


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So here we are, the start of a new year. What does 2020 hold in store for us? Shall we make predictions? Predictions are of course problematic because they are often wrong. Experts, both established and those looking to make a name for themselves, need to make predictions that standout from the crowd in order to standout themselves, and the more they standout from what the majority of others say the more often they are wrong. Others who put themselves out as experts, are sometimes making predictions that simply serve their own interests rather than what seems more likely to occur. So rather than me making predictions, I’ll make a list of my hopes and fears for 2020, which seems like it will be a year which will have great impact on all of us. (That is a prediction).

My hope is that 2020 will reconfirm the rule of law as an underlying principle as to how our nation works. My fear is that those who flout established law will get away with it and continue to succeed in bending and breaking those laws, without being checked, to serve their interests and to gather power to themselves.

My hope is that 2020 will usher in a sense of responsibility to ourselves and the future, that significant action must be taken to stem and reverse the degradation of our planet. My fear is that those who see or experience benefit in that degradation will continue to dominate policy and stoke fears about change in order to reap those benefits. It is easier to make money from something if you are willing to destroy/despoil it.

My hope is that 2020 will be the year of the people. People will no longer feel discrimination, or that they have a target painted on their backs. People should feel that they have an equal voice in how they are governed, in how they live their lives and that their vote counts. People will feel in control of themselves and their own future and that they live on an equal playing field with equal opportunity for themselves and their children. My fear is that we will continue our slide to a “moral” society where various groups attempt to impose their “moral” standards on others. Standards which are not necessarily moral, but simply a power grab, an attempt to shape and impose their beliefs on others for profit of one sort or another.

My hope is that 2020 will become a year of resurgent science. That science will be front and center in decision making and policy. We should be guided by facts and figures, by research and tested models that enable prediction (there’s that word) with accuracy. Science is the key to our future and has enabled us to overcome many threats to our existence. My fear is that science will be underfunded and ignored when facts are inconvenient to those with established beliefs. My fear is that for some reason science will be looked down upon and it will be looked down upon by people who would likely be dead if it weren’t for the science that has overcome disease, hunger and greatly extended lifespans.

My hope is that in 2020 education will be greatly expanded, for without education stupefying beliefs and behaviors take hold. My fear is that education will continue to be considered a threat to power, a threat to “coolness”, a threat to a sense of self-worth. Everyone should have access to education and the goal of education should be to increase a sense of self-worth and self-control, not to unnecessarily differentiate or degrade.

My hope is that 2020 will see continued economic expansion. Economic expansion that enables more people to be lifted out of poverty, that enables all to have access to sufficient food, healthcare, housing and education. The goal of an economic expansion should not be to gather exorbitant resources with a few, but to spread society’s wealth so that the vast majority may benefit. Without a strong and vibrant middle-class democracy dies.  My fear is that we have established a “Potemkin economy”, a false-front economy, where the substance that enables long-term economic expansion has been whittled away by a desire for short-term gain.

My hope for 2020 is that long-term grievances among warring factions be resolved. My fear is that it is not in the interests of certain parties to resolve those grievances. Those interests can be political (to stay in power), they can be economic (an arms race benefits arms dealers), they can be religious or fear-based (my god gave me rights and your god is false). And we are more than willing to kill each other over a rock, a speck of dirt, political clout or some other benefit.

My hope for 2020 is that we get away from false equivalency. That there must be two sides to every story. Sometimes there is simply right and wrong, we must stop giving wrong a voice. My fear is that we will excuse right from wrong, by arguing about “who is the judge?”, and “everyone is entitled to their point of view”, when the reality is that various outlets make money by promulgating “wrong” and are very willing to chase that money, society be damned.

My hope for 2020 is that we can have honest conversations about mental health. The spectrum of mental illnesses or mental health issues affect a significant proportion of the population at one-point or another and many are natural expressions of life-events (e.g. depression is natural upon the death of a loved one). Many of these issues can be overcome with treatment or time and should be thought of similarly to fixing a broken bone or overcoming the flu. But certain mental illnesses are malevolent and either resistant to treatment or have no effective treatment available. Those with these malevolent illnesses can not be given access to positions of power, or the ability to influence others who may be susceptible to their illogic. My fear is that we will continue to sweep the discussion of the spectrum of mental illness under the rug because it makes us uncomfortable.

My hope for 2020 is that gun violence will abate. The evidence is clear that guns in fact kill people and access to guns simply leads to more gun deaths. Those with mental health issues have no more likelihood of gun violence than those without mental health issues. My fear is that vested interests, whether that be gun manufacturers or our opponents on the geo-political stage will continue to benefit from the discord in our country over this issue. A weakened USA, weakened by internal strife is the goal of many of our nation-state rivals.

My hope for 2020 is that we will have a fair and free election. My fear is that foreign nations will disrupt/influence/rig our election for their own gains.

My hope for 2020 is that my hopes are fulfilled. My fear is that my fears are realized. The reality is that in order to fulfill hopes we must all go out there and make it happen.

Written by Jeffrey M. Saltzman

January 1, 2020 at 8:46 am

Posted in Ethics, Human Behavior

One Response

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  1. I share your hopes and your fears.Thank you for giving voice to those fears because they are real and have dangerous consequences for our democracy. I hope that by stating the fears you will mobilize action to prevent or at least hinder their occurrence in 2020.

    Walter Reichman

    January 1, 2020 at 10:20 am

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