The Last Christmas?

[This isn’t a normal topic for me, but it seems important.]

Your future may not be what you expect.

Economic theory teaches that the more one has of something, the less value one assigns to it.  That simple premise explains a lot of bad decisions people make.

Wasting time is one of them.  The young see time as virtually infinite, so they don’t start to plan for retirement until they are in their 40s, and have lost 20 years of compound interest in building their funds.  People waste time in others ways.  There’s no sense of urgency until they perceive that time is limited.  Unfortunately, it always is.

“Peace on earth.”  Its a common phrase this season, but there is no urgency behind it.  OK, not this year.  Maybe next year, or the one after, or the decade after, or someday.  It’s like the common Seder phrase, “next year in Israel.”  “Next year” is never really defined.  Someday.

Elon Musk sounded a wake-up call earlier in December, which has gone largely unremarked.  The CEO at Tesla and SpaceX, he’s got a program to establish a colony on Mars.  Unfortunately, he thinks World War III may derail the effort.

While a comment like that could be construed as a self-serving effort to raise additional funds for his program, there are reasons to take it seriously.

(1)  Religious extremism.  There are Christian, Muslim (ISIS) and Jewish sects who believe that an Apocalypse is essential for a Second Coming.  Under this theory, ISIS welcomed Russian intervention in Syria as it increased the risk of a nuclear confrontation between some combination of the US, Russia and Israel.  There are Christian conservatives who would similar welcome a nuclear war for the same reason.

What are the odds of an extremist achieving power in a country that has a nuclear arsenal?  Could the next US election accomplish that?

(2)  A coming lack of critical resources, including clean water.  This could exacerbate conflicts between countries in Asia, South America and Africa, although most of the countries involved aren’t nuclear powers.

Musk’s agenda involves establishing a Mars colony in the next ten to twelve years.  If he feels that might be disrupted by war, that means the war would occur in that relatively short time frame.  That’s actually plausible, maybe even generous.

If one takes that risk seriously, it puts Kerry’s negotiations in the Middle East this year in a very different light.  It may be a highly choreographed dance to avoid the nuclear debacle that ISIS wants.

In any case, the peace advocates had better get busy.

How would you have made this holiday season different if you thought it might be your last one?  Any of the next few could be the last, war or not.

Perhaps the more interesting question:  If you are religious and you have to go meet your maker sooner than you expect, what do you want on your resume when you have that interview?

Your time is finite.  Use it well.

Peace be with you.




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