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The Good Ancestor

How to Think Long-Term in a Short-Term World

By Roman Krznaric

A call to save ourselves and our planet by targeting the root of our inaction: extreme short-sightedness

“The most important question we must ask ourselves is: Are we being good ancestors?” So said Jonas Salk, who cured polio in 1953. Salk saved millions of lives, but he refused to patent his cure or make any money from it. His radical rethinking of what we owe future generations should be an inspiration to us all, but it has hardly taken hold: Businesses can barely see past the next quarter; politicians can’t see past the next election. Markets spike, then they crash in speculative bubbles. We rarely stop to consider whether we’re being good ancestors . . . but the future depends on it.

Here, leading public intellectual, philosopher, and bestselling author Roman Krznaric explains six practical ways we can retrain our brains to save our future—such as adopting Deep Time Humility (recognizing our lives as a cosmic eyeblink) and Cathedral Thinking (starting projects that will take more than one lifetime to complete). His aim is to inspire a “time rebellion”—to shift our allegiance from our generation only to all humanity, present and future.

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Roman Krznaric

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Review quotes
“Full of revelations for everyone who cares about the legacy they leave. This is the book our children’s children will thank us for reading.”—The Edge, U2

“Roman Krznaric addresses the greatest challenge confronting the world: How can humanity survive this century and flourish in the next? His book deserves to be widely read—by policy makers, and indeed by all citizens who care about the prospects for their children and grandchildren.”—Professor Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal and author of On The Future

“The individualistic philosophies of the last century have generated huge concentrations of wealth—but at the same time put us on the road to social, political, and environmental collapse. This clear-sighted and inspiring book suggests a different view of who humans are and what they really value—and a number of ways off that lethal road. It’s a must-read for anyone who’s looking for the good news.”—musician and composer Brian Eno

“A great antidote to the short-term thinking that comes easily to us all. If you want to be a good ancestor, start by reading this book.”—Nigel Warburton, author of A Little History of Philosophy and founder of the Philosophy Bites podcast

“I judge a book’s usefulness by how many pages I’m compelled to dog-ear and underline. This book on the pragmatics of long-term thinking earned 50-plus dog-ears.”—Stewart Brand, creator of the Whole Earth Catalog and co-founder of The Long Now Foundation

“Krznaric’s seamless and magical prose delights on every page. Let’s engrave his ’six ways to think long’ across the gateway to every Parliament in the world.”—Professor Tim Jackson, author of Prosperity Without Growth

“Roman Krznaric passionately argues that thinking long term would bring untold benefits and may very well be vital to our survival as a species. Lose yourself in these pages, expand your time horizons, and reimagine your relationship to time, to the future, to activism.”—Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition Town movement and author of From What Is to What If

“A fascinating and inspiring exploration of one of the great relationship questions of the 21st century: How can we extend our circle of care to future generations?”—John Gray, New York Times–bestselling author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus

“Krznaric asks the defining moral question for our age: How will future generations look back on our legacy? A superb intellectual history and razor-sharp analysis of contemporary politics, this book will change how you think about the worldand is a call to action. Read it. You owe it to your children’s children.”—Kevin Watkins, Chief Executive, Save the Children

“How timely can a book be? Roman Krznaric fizzes with ideas about how we tackle that cuckoo in the nest, short-term thinking. We need to think today for tomorrow, to give future generations their rightful seat at the table.”—Lord John Bird MBE, founder of The Big Issue

“An important and fascinating book that asks whether we’ve got what it takes to become citizens rather than consumers and create an ecological civilization. The Good Ancestor is a triumph.”—Sir Tim Smit, co-founder of the Eden Project

“From the seventh-generation thinking of Native American tribes to legally empowered guardians of the future and citizens’ assemblies, Krznaric explores a wealth of ways we can become good ancestors. For anyone who is interested in how we can get today’s society to leave the world better than they found it—this is your guide.”—Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales

“In this persuasive book, one of our leading thinkers, Roman Krznaric, expands his ground-breaking work on empathy to argue that our only hope of survival is to develop deep empathy for future generations across time and space.”—Professor Morten Kringelbach, neuroscientist, Universities of Oxford and Aarhus, Denmark
Product Details
Categories
Number of pages
288
Publication date
October 27, 2020
ISBN
9781615197309