October 11, 2004

"In the Long Run, We Are All Dead"

YOU CAN SAY what you like about Lord Keynes and his economics, but we would submit to you this evening that his famous quip was spot on in dealing with the business of life.

We have noticed over the years that many otherwise right-thinking and responsible people get very much bothered at events and circumstances which are meaningless in the long run. As recent evidence of this, we would present a New York Times article about the state of youth soccer in an upper-crust suburb of that city. This suburb, you see, is apparently in an honest-to-God furore over how their youngsters ought take part in the sport.

It is a fascinating read, because it highlights the acedic and sclerotic nature of such places: many things that truly matter are left ignored, while any attempts to rock the boat are considered threats on par with root rot, criminality and Bolshevism. And while we would not condemn people for speaking their minds on issues of import to them, we do feel compelled to say, "For God's sakes. It's youth soccer." And really -- could there be anything less important in life than youth soccer?

Consider our own experience with the sport as indicative. We can assure readers that we spent eight full years taking part in youth soccer matches. During this great and storied career, we scored all of four goals, one of which was against an empty net. Our main contribution to our team was to act as a defenseman, by which we mean we kicked the ball back up the field whenever it came into our territory. Also, whenever we went after the ball, we sometimes ran into opposing players and knocked them down. The lessons we learned from this experience were as follows:

1. We're not very adept at playing soccer.
2. Perhaps we ought work at something at which we're more competent.
3. Orange slices are not adequate incentive for an hour's time on the pitch.

Now, we are proud to say that Mr and Mrs Kepple Were Not Especially Worked Up About Youth Soccer either. Oh, they came to the games and cheered us on, and they sometimes brought the orange slices. Other than that, though, they were perfectly fine to let us go about doing our thing. There was no complaining about the injustice of a coach and no whining about so-and-so being a favorite or what not. They had far more important things to worry about, and focused on those things.

The brilliance of this strategy hit home years later when we realized we had internalized a lot of things surrounding those important issues (such as what the closing tick was) and were applying them in our daily life. Also, as a boy, we were encouraged to focus on things we liked, which eventually led to our happy and pleasant life today. In short, our parents focused on the long run.

Now, we realize that some critics may point out Lord Keynes' quote was intended to denigrate all long-term thinking, as he was greatly focused on short-term solutions. However, we have always thought his words were more meaningful under our contrary interpretation. Short-term problems generally don't last; but God! to think of all the time and energy wasted on dealing with them! How much better it is to focus on the long run, and not worry about the short-term problems. We may eventually all be dead, but at the least we can enjoy things in the meantime.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at October 11, 2004 10:56 PM | TrackBack


I've been reading over your stuff, and your writing voice has a very unique British quality. It's quirky and pretentious at once. All in all, great fun to read.

Won't you please try your hand at writing a novel?

At least some short stories to start.


Posted by: Matthew S. Schwartz at October 11, 2004 11:42 PM

Yes, do! I would think it will be smashing!

Posted by: DCE at October 12, 2004 07:12 AM

I wouldn't say my writing style has a British quality per se, although I have adopted some stylistic aspects of the Queen's English because I like them. As for a novel ... yeah, I'd like to pursue that. We'll see, I suppose.

Posted by: Benjamin Kepple at October 12, 2004 09:11 AM