Shortly after a friend encouraged me to read Ancient Futures by Helena Norberg-Hodge, another friend encouraged me to watch The Economics of Happiness, a documentary by the author, Steven Gorelick and John Page. Both the book and the film shine a light on Ladakh, an area in the Himalayas that was, up until very recently, simple and sustainable, providing a relatively happy life for all who lived there. However, after being infiltrated by the modern methods of corporate consumerism, their beautifully primitive culture has been waylaid by poverty and desperation, their happiness replaced by the same sense of lack and scarcity that unfortunately drives our civilization.
As we move forward and recognize that our culture has been developed by decisions that have been made in the past, we must realize that it is within our power to make decisions now that will create the future, both for us and for all beings on the planet. If we decide to do the same things that have been done before and expect different results, then we simply give ourselves over to insanity and will continue on in the methods of violence and manipulation that bring about such suffering and poverty in the world today. We can easily do this by following the course of globalization, allowing the sociopathic tendencies which drive it to eventually cannibalize our culture and kill off our civilization and species. With its natural healing properties, the planet will restore itself and life will go on without us.
Of course, there is a better choice.
By recognizing the imperfections in our systems in generating the perceptions of scarcity and lack, we may be able to acknowledge some semblance of humility in admitting that perhaps the way we have been propagating since our discipleship into it in the course of our upbringing may not be the best mode of operation for developing a sustainable future. Perhaps this system of globalization and the perpetuation of debt which so quickly outgrows the available resources, along with the accompanying mentality of slavery needed to fuel it, is not the optimal system of development for a species seeking to evolve to a better state of being.
As the film points out, the wisest course of action, given the technologies at our disposal to create a global network by building upon the lessons learned through the Agricultural, Industrial, and Information Revolutions, is not globalization, but localization. Entering into the Wisdom Revolution, we can clearly see that our best efforts should not be directed toward homogenized activities that result in wasteful practices and the eventual rewards for an elite few at the expense of the many. Instead, let us use the resources at our disposal to communicate and teach one another practical methods of meeting our emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual needs in our local communities thereby creating a global network of healthy, differentiated societies integrating into an interdependent whole.
The true economics of happiness is simply one of choice and should be merely commoditized no longer. May we wake up to the opportunities that are before us and create the world we know we are capable of.