A Real Economic Measure

One of the books I’m reading: Engaged Buddhist Reader

What if we asked “How many people are getting a balanced meal?” instead of “How much has our economy grown?”

What if we asked about how many people are fed well about people world around as well as here in the United States?

The idea isn’t original with me. Although I’ve long sensed we don’t ‘do economy’ well, this particular articulation I found in an essay called Waking Everybody Up by A.T. Ariyaratne in the Engaged Buddhist Reader.

The book was first published in 1996, and Ariyaratne references conflict in Sri Lanka from that era. But everything he said then is true today. Third word debt still raises havoc in countries that try to pay it off, putting debt repayment ahead of food and shelter.

The ills of glorifying ‘economic growth’ over the welfare of people and other beings here on this small planet we share, continues to cause more and more poverty, and not just over seas. Well, there is no ‘over seas’ is there.

We truly are one people on one planet. One people with many different expressions, but one none-the-less. We inter-are as Thich Nhat Hanh puts it.

And what if we added another question, like “How are we supporting the health of the planet?”

We all know, I believe, at some deep intuitive level that more stuff just doesn’t cut it.

As I drink my special tea made with safe water from one of a dozen tea cups I own in my home office, knowing I have a roof over my head and then some and that there’s a car in the driveway with half a tank of gasoline in it, I wonder not just who am I kidding, but how can I move myself to a more sustainable position?

Okay, here’s one thing I can and will do. I will check out public transportation here in San Diego. Maybe I can reduce my driving from six days a week to five or even four.

No promises, except to see what’s possible.

I know asking “How many people are getting a balanced meal?” and “How are we supporting the health of the planet?” makes my soul sigh yes!

How about you? What questions would you ask? What one thing can you consider adding or subtracting to your live to move yourself and all of us toward sustainability?

Love and blessings,

Anne Wayman: When Grandmother Speaks

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosaleah May 22, 2011 at 10:57 am

I have never understood the need for economic growth. Economic stability, yes; but growth for its own sake seems unwise.

(btw, you might want to correct your second paragraph, which seems scrambled; and “live” in your last paragraph surely should be “life.”)

Bill Swan August 25, 2011 at 2:01 am

Anne, I’m pretty sure that if we made sure everyone had a basic well-balanced meal we wouldn’t have the “welfare state” that people complain about.

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