We’re supposed to learn from the past, live in the present and plan for the future. At least that’s the theory. But we all know that’s not really how it works in practice.

We’re becoming more indoctrinated by common dogma and myths and learning less about history and science. We’re increasingly distracted by popular media and instant gratification and less in touch with our surroundings and ourselves. And when it comes to the future, we do a lot more wishing and worrying than actual planning.

Not to be judgmental. For many if not most of us, this is simply the new normal. C’est la vie, right? Well, not exactly.

Truth is, life is one big zero-sum game. It’s all about priorities and tradeoffs. The more you do of one thing, the less you get to do of another. When you’re buying, you’re not saving. When you’re not earning, you’re usually spending. If you’re not doing, you’re dreaming. If you’re not facing reality, you’re engaging in fantasy.

Every one of those tradeoffs is a choice – one of many such decisions you make every day of your life. And each one has consequences. Each one influences the outcome. Each one affects how you feel and how things turn out for you and your loved ones.

While writing a column about the detrimental affects that the European Union’s progressive socioeconomic policies are having on the continent’s culture, economy, and security, I had a thought. Nations have policies. So do people.

Governments make decisions on behalf of their populace. That, you’re stuck with. We all are. But you also get to make decisions that affect you and your family. You get to determine your own policies. You get to make those choices. And you and your loved ones have to live with the outcome.

But let’s face it. There’s a certain inertia to life. And it’s a hell-of-a lot easier to just go with the flow than having to put energy into learning, understanding what’s really going on inside and around you, and making good decisions that will make a big difference down the road, even if they occasionally buck the status quo.

Don’t think for a minute that leaders are immune to that inertia — the insidious path of least resistance.

It would be reasonable to assume that Europe’s leaders are doing what they think is right, but they’re actually succumbing to the powerful tug of cultural norms based on utopian notions. They seem to have forgotten that similarly popular policies cost millions their lives and nearly everyone their freedom in the 40s.

The irony is that policies labeled as progressive are actually those of an increasingly conforming collectivist culture, aka socialism. The world has seen this sort of thing before in various forms. Benevolent as the EU’s incarnation appears to be, the outcome will inevitably be the same.

But then, why face cold hard reality when it’s so easy – and politically expedient – to just go with the flow. Forget the lessons of the past, ignore what’s happening all around you, and blind yourself with some wishful thinking – that doing the same things again will yield different results this time.

Remember, life is finite. You don’t get to do it all. Time spent learning from the past, living in the present, and planning for the future is time well spent. If you’re not doing that, you’re doing something else. If you’re not facing reality, you’re engaging in fantasy. One thing’s for sure. The former yields better choices and better results.

Image credit HBO