Thursday 28 July 2016

Think long-term - really long-term

We're often told that we should plan ahead. This takes on new meaning when we put it into a really long-term perspective, like thinking about the kind of society we want to create for the next generation.

It's one thing to plan for one's own future, and even for our children's future, in terms of things like education, but it's a lot more difficult to plan how their lives will turn out. There are so many different social and environmental factors over which we ultimately have no control.

So how can we think ahead and prepare a future for the generations that will follow us, without being able to really plan for what will happen? The best we can do is to try and influence our immediate communities so that through them we can create the kind of society we want future generations to inherit. The most effective way to do this is through our own individual behaviour, so here are a few ideas.

Get involved in community organisations

It doesn't matter where your personal priorities lie, you should be able to find a community organisation that fits your needs or suits your interests. These organisations are in many ways the backbone of our communities because they play central roles in people's lives. By participating in them you will be able to make a very direct and meaningful contribution towards building a future society.

Two of the most obvious organisations that you might want to get involved with are a church or a sports club. We South Africans love our sport, so finding a sports club near to where you live shouldn't be a problem. If you're young and fit enough you'll obviously get the most benefit from actually playing the sport. If your playing days are over you could coach the kids. Otherwise, you can help in another capacity – most sports clubs have administrative committees to run them.

Similarly, religion plays a central role in the lives of many people in our country, so finding a church to join will be easy. There are plenty of service roles that you can fulfil in a church, from singing in the choir to youth counselling.

Become politically active

There are many ways to become involved at a political level in our society, and only a few of them involve being a politician. You can get involved in fundraising for your preferred party, or join its local branch. If your focus lies on a specific issue, like LGBT rights, for instance, you can join an organisation that represents this focus. Being politically active simply means doing something concrete for something that you believe in.

Help to educate others

Not everyone is called to be a teacher, but each one of us can pass on our knowledge, skills or experience to others in our own way. So whether at work or in our community organisations or interest groups, we should try to identify younger or newer members who we can help along by passing on what we have learned and what we can do. Sometimes it might simply be a case of sharing some life wisdom with another person. The aim of it all is to help those who come after us to develop more quickly and more thoroughly.

What ideas do you have for thinking really long-term? Share it with us here, or tweet us on

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