Kentaro Toyama: The Future We Want
The future we want recognizes that we want a future.
A future of justice. A future of prosperity. A future with freedom, dignity, and happiness.
A future where every child can expect to live her hopes, and every old man can look back with laughter. A future where the question “how much?” is heard less than “how meaningful?” A future where the measure of greatness is not bigger guns, fatter wallets, or even smarter minds, but kinder hearts, wiser choices, and truer actions.
All it takes for the future we want are three simple things: good intention, sound judgment, and a bit of self-control. Better intention cares for oneself and also for others; it cares for today and also for tomorrow. Sounder judgment makes the hard tradeoffs assisted by knowledge and experience. Greater self-control enacts what we intend and what we decide. These three traits flowering in people, institutions, and nations... that is all it takes.
Three simple things, but how to attain them? The future we want comes not from packaged interventions imposed from outside but from evolving aspirations felt from within. It’s a climb with both aches and vistas, and it’s an ascent with many switchbacks: from poverty, to prosperity, to contentment; from oppression, to freedom, to responsibility; from dependence, to independence, to interdependence; from helplessness, to confidence, to humility. The future we want transcends ideology and constantly strives for balance, synthesis, and intrinsic maturation.
The future we want comes only if we apply the present we have. If the richest among us help more people learn to help themselves. If the strongest among us heed that comic-book cliché: Great power comes with great responsibility. If the brightest among us seek more than clever technologies, but skillful means to nurture real wisdom. And if we see that in our own ways, we are all rich, strong, and bright.
The future we want is grateful for the past. Grateful for the individuals, communities, and societies who came before, who willed and planned and acted so that there would be a future.
That’s the future we want.
Kentaro Toyama is a visiting researcher in the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley and a fellow at the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics at MIT. He is working on a book arguing that increasing human and institutional wisdom should be the primary focus of international development activities.