I do a few things that strike others as difficult to comprehend. Not all of them are mere expressions of a Certified Galactic Intellect; some are indulgences that aren't widely shared. For example, I often reread.
What's that you say? How can I find time to reread books already read when I have to read so much just to keep up with events? I manage, Gentle Reader; I manage. And there's this: truly excellent books contain a good deal more of merit than anyone can squeeze out of them in a single reading.
An excellent example of such a book is Mark Steyn's recent blockbuster America Alone:
Today, in your typical election campaign, the political platforms of at least one party in the United States and pretty much every party in the rest of the West are all but exclusively about those secondary impulses: government health care (which America is slouching toward, incrementally but remorselessly), government day care (which was supposedly the most important issue in the 2006 Canadian election), government paternity leave (which Britain has introduced). We've elevated the secondary impulses over the primary ones: national defense, self-reliance, family, and, most basic of all, reproductive activity. If you don't "go forth and multiply," you can't afford all those secondary-impulse programs, like lifelong welfare, whose costs are multiplying a lot faster than you are. Most of the secondary-impulse stuff falls under the broad category of self-gratification issues: we want the state to take our elderly relatives off our hands not so much because it's better for them but because otherwise the old coots would cut seriously into our own time. Fair enough. But once you decide you can do without grandparents, it's not such a stretch to decide you can do without grandchildren.
There's a complete diagnosis of the core malady of the West wrapped up in that paragraph. We might call it "present-moment thinking:" complete absorption in present pleasures and satisfactions, without regard for who must foot the bill or what it might mean for the future.
I've written before about the transition in perceptions from children as economic assets to children as "luxury goods." A bit stark, that formulation, but a bit of starkness might be what we need. For despite our general departure from the farms, children remain economic assets: "certificates of deposit" in our society's future. To put it most bluntly: Anyone who hopes to sponge off "society" implicitly hopes to be supported today by other people's money, and tomorrow by other people's children.
I've also written before about the inability to get people to reproduce by exhorting them to care about the future. You can't get a man to breed for the sake of a future he doesn't care about; it's as vicious a circle as has ever been drawn. Nor would it be a terrific deal to be born to a couple that didn't want you but felt obliged to produce you for "the future." But one of the primary-impulse matters Steyn mentioned above -- self-reliance, at any age and in any state of society -- will grow to be an ever more important commodity as our progeny dwindle in number.
It is written in the stars that those who cultivate sufficient self-reliance to thrive in an aging, shrinking population will not look charitably upon those who persist in looking to others for their sustenance. If that isn't perfectly obvious to you, check your glasses: someone might have painted them opaque while you slept.