Contrasting the prototypes of “Shimen”—a ḥasidic Jew and Holocaust survivor—and “Heidi,” a highly educated liberal Jew—Moshe Koppel explains their differing responses to the inevitable tension between loyalty and fairness. “Shimen” tends to give them equivalent, if not equal, weight, while “Heidi” has an absolute preference for fairness. Koppel argues that this preference stems from a lack of concern with posterity:
Fairness . . . requires that we value the future almost as much as we value the present; . . . those who live for today are not reliable long-term partners. . . . Heidi is quite certain that she greatly values the future . . . and she has her profound concern about global warming to prove it. But the rest of Heidi’s lifestyle suggests otherwise.
Like almost all of her new friends, Heidi chose not to marry until she was nearly aged forty and chose to have only one child. She regards the family structure that sustained most human societies for millennia as an option no more valid than any other; her admirable compassion for those for whom traditional family life is unsatisfying blinds her to the devastating long-term consequences of low birthrates and the breakdown of the family. What is seen and immediate is more important to Heidi than what is unseen and long-term.
Heidi is a pacifist. She doesn’t identify sufficiently with any country to wish to make sacrifices in its defense; she discounts alarm about evident threats to societies of which she is a member as paranoia and war-mongering. In the short term, her society can withstand military threats based on residual deterrence and the efforts of others, but in the long term, her society will lack the force and spirit required to withstand the barbarians.
Heidi favors economic policies that mitigate inequality in the very short term, but distort incentives in ways that slow economic growth that would alleviate poverty in the long term. Heidi’s subversion of traditional norms regarding the inception and end of life alleviates distress in the short term, but cheapens life in the long term.