I attended a session for Sustainable Prosperity last week and was left with a pretty big realization that evolved for me into what blurted out in a strategy session for Windfall Ecology Centre on Friday as..
"This BIGGERING is buggering..."Obviously, this is inspired by Dr. Seuss' "The Lorax", (see the specific quotes here), but it also refers to a growing realization that the thing that economy is based on - continuously increasing consumption - is reaching a breaking point. To be clear, this isn't a recession inspired 'people aren't going to consume as much anymore' statement, it's a 'if people consume anywhere near what we're consuming we're all screwed' statement. "Story of Stuff" by Free Range Media for the Tides Foundation makes a simple and decent case for that.
So getting back to Sustainable Prosperity, I can't help but think that if any new definition of prosperity is going to have any impact, it has to address this, and the other underpinning of our society, if the individual doesn't prefer it for their own selfish motivations, no level of altruistic appeal will change their behaviours. The 60 minutes "House of Cards" segment on the sub-prime mess shows some of that with a shocking display of people's self-interest at play.
Putting those two things together then, any new definition must then:
- Not be dependent from continually increasing financial prosperity (growth)
- To the individual, be considered as comparatively superior to the conventional notion of financial prosperity
Things are broken. We need a new basis to start from. Personally, I can't deny it anymore... this biggering is buggering and so I'm beginning again.
But before I begin my beginning, I'll just share something from another great kids book, this one by Jamie Lee Curtis (whoda thunk?) and Laura Cornell called "Is There Really a Human RACE?". I've posted the full text here, but will wrap with this provocative page:
"Do some of us win? Do some of us lose?
Is winning or losing something I choose?
Why am I racing? What am I winning?
Does all of my running keep the world spinning?"