a Second Look
job, make some money, work till you're sixty,
then move to
Florida and die. Have you ever
uneasy feeling that there
must be something more
to life than this? Most of us have at one time or
another. Yet, each
morning we trudge wearily
through ever-growing traffic to take part in
grind. Then one day we wake up to the realization
time here is almost up.
While civilization brings some benefits it also has many unspoken
costs. Indeed it's almost taboo to speak of them in many circles.
But things have begun to shift. In the January 18th, 2006 issue of the Financial Times, professor
Andrew Oswald wrote an
how we have gotten it all wrong about what really matters in life:
mistakenly believe that economic growth makes a nation happier.
“Britain is today experiencing the longest period of sustained economic
growth since the year 1701 – and we are determined to maintain it,”
began Gordon Brown, the chancellor of the exchequer, in his 2005 Budget
speech. Western politicians think this way because they were taught to
do so. But today there is much statistical and laboratory evidence in
favour of a heresy: once a country has filled its larders there is no
point in that nation becoming richer.
The hippies, the
the road protesters, the downshifters, the slow-food movement – all are
having their quiet revenge. Routinely derided, the ideas of these
down-to-earth philosophers are being confirmed by new statistical work
by psychologists and economists.
surveys show that the industrialised nations have not become happier
over time. Random samples of UK citizens today report the same degree
of psychological well-being and satisfaction with their lives as did
their (poorer) parents and grandparents. In the US, happiness has
fallen over time. White American females are markedly less happy than
were their mothers.
measures of mental health, rates of depression in countries such as the
UK have increased. Third, measured levels of stress at work have gone
statistics paint a picture that is often consistent with such patterns.
In the US, even though real income levels have risen sixfold, the
per-capita suicide rate is the same as in the year 1900. In the UK,
more encouragingly, the suicide rate has fallen in the last century,
although among young men it is far greater than decades ago.
global warming means that growth has long-term consequences few could
have imagined in their undergraduate tutorials.
None of these
immune from counter-argument. But most commentators who argue against
such evidence appear to do so out of intellectual habit or an
unshakeable faith in conventional thinking.
Some of the
innovative academics have come up with strong evidence about why growth
does not work. One reason is that humans are creatures of comparison.
Research last year showed that happiness levels depend inversely on the
earnings levels of a person’s neighbours. Prosperity next door makes
you dissatisfied. It is relative income that matters: when everyone in
a society gets wealthier, average well-being stays the same.
A further reason
habituation. Experiences wear off. ...Those who become disabled recover
80 per cent of their happiness by three years after an accident. Yet
economics textbooks still ignore adaptation.
final reason is that human beings are bad at forecasting what will make
them happy. In laboratory settings, people systematically choose the
wrong things for themselves.
Yet surely, it
argued, what about power showers, televised football, titanium
wristwatches, car travel for all – are these not compelling evidence
for the long arm of growth? Yes they are, but we need these because Mr
and Mrs Jones have them, not because they make an intrinsic difference.
faith in the
value of growth is diminishing. That is a good thing and will slowly
make its way into the minds of tomorrow’s politicians. Led by the
distinguished psychologist Edward Diener of the University of Illinois,
a practical intellectual manifesto signed by many of the world’s
researchers, entitled Guidelines for National Indicators of Subjective
Well-Being and Ill-Being, has just begun to circulate on the internet.
That document calls for national measures of separate facets of
well-being and ill-being, including moods and emotions, perceived
mental and physical health, satisfaction with particular activities and
domains, and the subjective experience of time allocation and
growth, ought to be the next and more sensible target for the next and
more sensible generation.
financial publication, such as the FT,
publishes such an article, it's safe to assume that there's sea change
taking place in public thinking about what really matters for a
the Collapse of Civilization: a Spiritual Map
Civilization is a
mental/material world of culturally transmitted illusion.
- William Kötke
The essay by Carolyb Baker, Ph.D covers the spiritual positives that
will come from a collapse.
The world is
feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in
the air. Much that once was, is lost, for none now live who remember it.
- Galadriel from Lord of the Rings
The following essays provide a fresh perspective on what we find
ourselves in today. If you have ever had a gnawing feeling that modern
life is little more than a steadily accelerating treadmill, you are not
alone. The following essays provide insights into the reasons
more and more of us are having those uncomfortable thoughts. If you can
understand what is happening and why, you then gain the ability to
decide if you wish to continue playing or move "off-the-grid".
Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race
by Jared Diamond author of Guns,
Germs, and Steel and Collapse.
Collapse expand on the points made by Diamond.
Hierarchy is an Unnecessary Evil
Makes Us Sick
Must Always Grow
Always Pursues Complexity
Daniel Quinn's novels Ishmael and The Story of B
deal with the costs of civilization.
articles and essays to come.