The path towards a sustainable future for our society is quite clear: convert from our growth-dependent consumer economy to a sustainable wellness economy. It really is not rocket science. We need to stop pillaging the earth (destroying our own health, the lives of poorer world citizens and the future of our children in the process) and start building a world and a set of values focused especially on sustainable human wellness.
The first objection that people usually bring against such proposals is job creation. Will there be any work when we are not actively encouraging every possible kind of consumer spending anymore? The answer is a resounding yes; there is tremendous potential for job and wealth creation in a sustainable wellness economy. We basically have to redesign, restructure, re-educate and rebuild our entire civilization. The amount of work that needs to be done here is tremendous.
What will have to happen, however, is that people will have to learn to consume less and invest more (and finally realize that less consumption equals more life). It is true that there is tremendous potential for job creation, but if the people refuse to fund these crucial developments through investment, nothing will happen. The fact that our culture has been totally conditioned for consumerism will make this issue quite challenging.
Also, when it comes to consumables, such a society will explicitly focus on sustainable wellness ahead of profits. Items will be priced according to their environmental and social impacts and not on their cost of manufacturing. Muscle cars, intercontinental flights, red meat and fast food will be crazily expensive while bicycles, electric vehicles, whole grains and green vegetables will be dirt cheap. This will help ensure the sustainable wellness of our society and bring about the crucial mindset shift away from unthinking consumerism towards sustainable happiness.
In practice, a sustainable wellness economy will gradually reduce the size of government, corporations and cities. Our future is set to become much more local as the age of cheap oil draws to a close, and the needs of these smaller local communities will be met most efficiently by small local governments and businesses. Not only will such communities be much more sustainable, they will also bring an end to the big problems created by big governments, big business and big cities.
As the size of government reduces, a sense of personal responsibility will return and people will retake control over their own lives. The result will be a marked improvement in the health and financial security of individuals, their communities and their countries. The steady decline of big business will bring an end to the total obsession with profit above all else. As a result, our interaction with nature will gradually become much more sustainable and mutually beneficial. Smaller local businesses will also create a better wealth distribution, more employment opportunities and greater consumer awareness of the real value of consumables. Smaller towns will greatly reduce pollution, create a much better sense of community and grant much greater resilience against future environmental and economic shocks.
All of these massive advantages are fairly well understood, but unfortunately we will not see the decisive political action needed to make this transition. Politicians are put into power by the unthinking electorate who have been fully conditioned to desire greater consumption at any cost while happily relinquishing more and more of their priceless personal liberty and personal responsibility. Also, once these politicians are in power, they are controlled by the elite who are benefitting greatly from our current unsustainable systems. Both the elite and the masses want to stick to the status quo and we will therefore continue to see no meaningful political action.
Another deterring factor is the simple fact that a transition from a consumer economy to a sustainable wellness economy will be uncomfortable in the short term. The primary reason for this is that the distribution of the labour market will have to be shifted dramatically. Millions of jobs catering for the consumption of the upper class will have to be replaced by jobs in the wide-ranging green industry, big corporations will have to downsize and restructure as business becomes more local, and the shrinkage of government will cause a great migration of labor from the public sector to the private sector. Society will have to undergo some radical changes and, unfortunately, human beings are notoriously resistant to change.
For these reasons, concerned citizens should not be wasting their time waiting for policymakers and big business to make the required changes. It simply won’t happen. Instead, they should be making these changes themselves on a one in a billion basis. If enough people start doing this, the changing consumer demand will drive the aforementioned labor market restructuring and, if enough people start thinking about this, we might even manage to actually elect politicians who will greatly accelerate this crucial process.
Individual action on a one in a billion basis can indeed be incredibly powerful. The only challenge is getting enough people to take action. This is addressed on the next page.
[Please feel free to point out anything that can be improved on this page. It is very important that we arrive at a clear and concise understanding of the current state of our world.]