Kids, young adults and ideologues of different stripes often see the world as a straight-line progression — the world gradually, but inevitably, becomes more enlightened. Martin Luther King Jr. summarized the view, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
The news is bittersweet. On the one hand a public servant who has dedicated nearly forty years of his life to the Los Angeles community will be unburdened from the demands of a public that wants him virtually every day and night of the week (whether it’s this group’s board meeting or that neighborhood council or the major donor who would like to “show him off” to friends), Zev Yaroslavsky has led a career of rarely saying no to his constituents. On the other hand, Los Angeles will be losing the chance to elect the one potential mayoral candidate that might have set our fiscal house in order.
Last week, while on a family vacation in Philadelphia, my wife and I visited the new National Museum of American Jewish History on Independence Square. We toured the wonderful installation chronicling American Jewish history from the first immigrants to the current period. The permanent exhibition alone is worth a few hours of touring.
The journalist Robert Wright argues in his book “Nonzero” that communication, cooperation and trust increase the likelihood that humans can avoid that favored term of game theorists: the zero-sum game. Whereas greater complexity and nuance allow us to avoid the zero-sum trap, the more simplistic and insular we are, the more likely we are to fall into it.