Disease of the Century in the West

06/17/2015 08:58 am ET | Updated Jun 17, 2016
Joerg Koch via Getty Images

The West seems to strongly believe that its century is over; that the world was better before, when the West was all-powerful. In this context, instead of responding and seeking to take responsibility through initiatives such as developing its culture, priding itself on its values and ushering them into modernity, the West simply attempts to delay its declining fortunes that it sees as inevitable. Therefore, it is suffering from a deadly disease found in all dying civilizations: procrastination.

This disease is all the more serious in that it has infiltrated everything; at the highest levels of government, down to every intimate detail of our private lives.

The president of the United States procrastinates as he hesitates when it comes to attacking Syria, same when not resending troops in Iraq to face Daesh, when not doing anything to reduce the monstrous inequalities in the country; when not stopping the machine that generates prison, mental illness or homeless shelter populations, that are increasing in number daily; when letting public debt grow unchecked rather than seeking to reduce it. In the same manner, Europe procrastinates when not taking the necessary decisions in order to save the Eurozone in the long term, (by establishing its own Parliament within the euro zone, a European treasury and a European budget) and when not sharing the burden imposed by the integration of foreigners as well as the opportunities, as the disgraceful conduct of Europeans in Ventimiglia demonstrates. Greece procrastinates when refusing to consider reforms, that it knows are unavoidable, as it cannot forever call for resources from other Europeans to be mobilized for maintaining living standards that its economy does not justify; and other Europeans cannot forever refuse to help as they are bound by the Union's political solidarity. The French Government also procrastinates when not taking the difficult decisions that are needed to deal with unemployment, national defense, kindergarten, lifelong training and institutions. It also procrastinates, like all the other leaders of the country that came before them, when letting public debt grow unchecked rather than seeking to reduce it. Most cities procrastinate when not making all the necessary efforts to contribute to the efficient reduction of their impact on the environment, and the digitization of their services. Many companies procrastinate when not supporting timely decisions created by future changes in technology and competition coming from the rest of the world. Our civil societies procrastinate when not deciding unambiguously what right conduct to adopt in the face of new challenges in science, like the state of irreversible coma survivorship or the status of children born via surrogates to French parents overseas. Each of us also procrastinates, sometimes, too often in fact, in no hurry to decide one's life's course, escape the daily routine, and a destiny written in advance. By refusing even to predict the future, and thus avoid making a choice. By resigning oneself.

Some even find good reasons to advocate procrastination and turn it into a doctrine. For them, it is a virtue, because it means taking time to make the best decision possible, so that one's decision is not dictated by others, or, for some to place themselves in a place where they are more creative, in a state of emergency. It is not only the financial markets that are involved: if government debt is a measure of a part of procrastination, low interest rates indicate the indulgence of the
financial system in this matter.

By trying to delay an inevitable decline that we believe inescapable, we will eventually make it irreversible when in reality this is far from being the case.

However, at a time when the rest of the world is moving so fast and having no qualms about making decisions, the last thing that ought to be done is to slumber in our indolence. The West and its values can survive. Provided we come out of global torpor. Decide quickly, in all areas, with courage, in all dimensions of our societies.

But for these answers not to be as erratic, so that hurry be not haste, we would still have to be able to form part of an overall project; thus, the real refusal of procrastination, for each of us as well as for the leaders of businesses and nations, is dependent on a clear vision of the future, for yourself and for those who depend on you; with the acceptance of the world as it is, by choosing a means of interpreting events, a project and a strategy, in order to know which option best addresses the situation.

Practise deciding quickly. Do today what you hoped to postpone until tomorrow. Have the courage to immediately say "no" when this is what you want to say and "yes" if this is what you truly want. For that purpose, meditate and take action. You will see: you will feel so good...