Posted on 18 September 2010
Yesterday, I was emphasising the need for a systemic economic change. There is nothing original about that, as it seems that an increasing number of people understand the limitations and self-destruction of our current social and economic models. As a matter of fact, the Chronicle.com has asked scholars’ views on what will be the defining question of the coming decade and why. It offers a variety of worthwhile reading answers, and one in particular has struck me. According to Professor Pat Shipman, “the defining idea of the next decade is ‘enough.’ […] The day of ‘enough’ is coming. “Enough” is part of a reaction against the overwhelming greed, violence, dishonesty, and petty meanness of the last decades. I believe that people in America, perhaps in all of Western culture, are tired of the adversarial system of law, government, and behavior that has held sway for so long. “Enough” is revulsion at cheap shots and oh-so-predictable scandals involving individuals in positions of trust. “Enough” is a renouncement of the notion that life is a zero-sum game, that if you win, I lose. Riches, domination of others, and winning at all costs are more likely to stir self-disgust than contentment.”
‘Enough’ however is only a phase, that, like a wave, is only gradually permeating our societies. I believe it is already heard here and there, but not vocal enough though. The key question then is how to ensure that the end-destination is more acceptable, and that the transition is smooth. Shipman refers to the slow movement, but he could also refer to the permaculture perspective, the transition towns, the different efforts to offer a systemic change, etc.
There is little doubt that our current lifestyle and, more generally the current standards of our industrialised societies are unsustainable. While many predict catastrophic coming decades, there is no need to be overly pessimistic. My question for you then is, how will you contribute to a smooth – rather than potentially violent – change?