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HomeReviewsBook ReviewsReviewed: The Good Ancestor  by Roman Krznaric

Reviewed: The Good Ancestor  by Roman Krznaric

How to think long-term in a short-term world

Overview

Roman Krznaric is a public philosopher and in this book he urges us to adopt what he calls ‘cathedral thinking’ as a way to become good ancestors and ensure better lives for the universal strangers of the future.

He believes that good ideas and long-term thinking are the answer to securing the future and solving many of the problems that are a result of our short-termism.

Roman Krznaric’s theory is that our almost pathological adherence to a short-term frame of mind and a slavish adherence to ‘the now’ means that we have colonised the future. We consume, spend, and propagate with no regard for future consequences, as though no one will inhabit the future. And future generations have no voice with which to protest our actions.

By only thinking of our immediate needs and not considering the impact our actions have on future generations, we have taken our species to a near precipice of disaster. This includes the impact on our environment, our character, our health, our work ethic and overall productivity. Taking stock of the legacy we will leave for our children, and for future generations, should galvanise us to long-term vision and action.

He gives us 6 ways to think long as an antidote to this problem

  • Deep-Time Humility – humankind’s existence is barely a blink in the vast timescale of the cosmos.
  • Legacy Mindset – adopting a mindset that focuses on future generations is our hope of being seen as good ancestors.
  • Intergenerational Justice – shifting our mindset to morality responsibility rather than just legacy.
  • Cathedral thinking – planning project beyond our lifetime
  • Holistic Forecasting – considering multiple options for the future of civilization
  • Transcendent Goal – striving for one-planet thriving.

Though not everyone might agree with Krznaric’s arguments and theories, he does a great job creating memorable insights which are inspiring. His writing is accessible, and he leaves plenty of room for for us to come up with our own future visions and ways to address short-termism. 

Why you should read it

When I started reading his book, I was reminded of a family visit to Barcelona a few years back. Two of my grandchildren were with us when we toured La Sagrada Familia. Both my son and I stood agog at the depth and breadth of Antoni Gaudi’s vision. 

He designed a basilica that he knew would only be completed centuries later. Various generations would need to be involved in the project without ever seeing it finished. It’s hard for us ‘modern’ folks to imagine creating a plan that most certainly won’t be realised in our lifetime – nevermind generations beyond.

At Reset, we encourage retirees to have a long-term view of their time in retirement because it helps us develop our purpose and mission, which in turn keeps us engaged and motivated. With this book, the call to action is even stronger and the possibilities even broader. Just imagine being part of an intergenerational plan like the Future Library Project or La Sagrada Familia. It changes a person’s perspective – and that’s why we think this book is so relevant to Reset.

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REVIEW OVERVIEW

Amazon rating at time of publication - 4.5
Goodreads rating at time of publication - 4.1
Relevance to Reset
Johann
Johannhttp://www.resetretirement.com
Johann is the founding partner of Reset Retirement where we focus on assisting people with planning for the non-financial aspects of their lives after full-time work. He had a long career in executive search and leadership as the founding partner and chairman of Heidrick & Struggles in South Africa where he was the head of the company’s board practice.

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Overview Roman Krznaric is a public philosopher and in this book he urges us to adopt what he calls ‘cathedral thinking’ as a way to become good ancestors and ensure better lives for the universal strangers of the future. He believes that good ideas and long-term...Reviewed: The Good Ancestor  by Roman Krznaric