‘Green growth’?

In the run-up to next year’s Earth Summit in Rio, the concept of ‘green growth’ has been launched. It’s intended to bridge the gap between the poorer countries’ need to ‘grow’, i.e. to get richer; and the richer countries’ need to assure their voters that they will not be asked to give up anything to our poorer brethren.

No wonder some people are sceptical. What if we take a new look at ‘growth’?

Is growth always good? Not if you’re a mature person. If you keep on growing past maturity, chances are you’re either very overweight or have cancer. But that doesn’t mean we stop ‘growing’ when we mature. On the contrary, that’s when the really exciting growth can happen: the intellectual and spiritual growth that gilds our days, enriches our years, opens our minds and spirits to ever new insights. As Einstein is reputed to have said, ”The more I know, the more I realize I don’t know…”

So how do we create an Einsteinian society? One where – once the necessities of life are assured (and maybe a LITTLE bit more!) – we find our joy in growing in insight, understanding, service? Doesn’t that sound like a worthy challenge?

The funny thing is that in survey after survey in the richer countries (including, for instance, Russia), a big majority of people say that what they value most and would like more of is TIME. Not things. Time to spend with family and friends, time to spend on doing what we feel passionate about. But – and here’s the crux – most people feel kind of alone in this. We value time, but we’re afraid everyone else values THINGS more, so we feel a need to acquire more things just so as not to be regarded as odd. We keep running, without knowing where we’re running to – or why.

Maybe that’s what the hero’s journey is really about. Learning to stand up for what we value most.