futurestrategy möchte einen Artikel vorstellen, der vom Worldwatch Institute im Rahmen der State of the World Reihe schon 2004 veröffentlicht wurde. Er bringt es unseres Erachtens auf den Punkt, um was es geht. Die Wirtschaft soll dem Menschen dienen und ihn unterstützen, ein gutes und glückliches Leben führen zu können. Und wir müssen wieder viel stärker lernen, die Natur zu schätzen, denn nur was man schätzt wird man auch verteidigen.
Getting to the Good Life
“People long for something deeper— happy, dignified, and meaningful lives—in a word, well-being. And they expect their economies to be a tool to this end, not an obstacle to it.”
Lurking beneath growing dissatisfaction with the consumer society is a simple question: What is an economy for? The traditional responses, including prosperity, jobs, and expanded opportunity, seem logical enough—until they become dysfunctional. When prosperity makes us overweight, overwork leaves us exhausted, and a “you can have it all” mindset leads us to neglect family and friends, people start to question more deeply the direction of their lives as well as the system that helps steer them in that direction. The signals emerging in some industrial countries—and some developing ones as well—suggest that many of us are looking for more from life than a bigger house and a new car.
A well-being society would offer consumers a sufficient range of genuine choices rather than a large array of virtually identical products. Businesses would be encouraged through economic incentives to deliver what consumers really seek—reliable transportation, not necessarily a car; or tasty, seasonal local produce rather than fruits and vegetables shipped in from another country; or strong neighborhood relationships in lieu of a large house with a big yard. Choice would be redefined to mean options for increasing quality of life rather than selections among individual products or services.
For individuals, genuine choice would also likely include the choice not to consume. Everyone will need to become practiced at wrestling with a key question: How much is enough? Responses will vary from person to person, but a guideline worth considering is one from the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu: “To know when you have enough is to be rich.” Consumers who embrace this ancient wisdom take a large step toward escaping the tyranny of social comparison and marketing that drives so much of today’s consumption.
People in a well-being society would also develop close relationships with the natural environment. As the late Harvard biologist Stephen Jay Gould once said: “We must develop an emotional and spiritual bond with nature, for we will not fight to save what we do not love.”
Finally, a society focused on well-being would ensure that everyone in it has access to healthy food, clean water and sanitation, education, health care, and physical security. It is virtually impossible to imagine a society of well-being that does not provide for people’s basic needs. And more than that, it is inconceivable that a well-being society would be satisfied with its own success if others outside its borders are suffering on a broad scale. Indeed, those societies that rank highest in the Wellbeing Index, especially in northern Europe, also have some of the world’s most generous foreign aid programs.
Making the transition to a society of well-being will undoubtedly be a challenge, given people’s habit of placing consumption at the apex of societal values. But any move in this direction starts out with two strong advantages. First, the human family today has a base of knowledge, technology, that can be invested in well-being rather than in continued material accumulation for its own sake. A second advantage is simple but powerful: for many people, a life of well-being is preferred to a life of high consumption.
By nurturing relationships, facilitating healthy choices, learning to live in harmony with nature, and tending to the basic needs of all, societies can shift from an emphasis on consumption to an emphasis on well-being. This could be as great an achievement in the twenty-first century as the tremendous advances in opportunity, convenience, and comfort were in the twentieth (http://www.worldwatch.org/node/815). ©Worldwatch Institute