We have gone too far. Now we have a choice: continue until everything collapses or try to do something different building upon the best of what we have while leaving the rest behind.
It might be said that it is too hard to change to less from more. It will lead to deflation, people will postpone purchases and the economy will shrink. The absurdity of such a fear is readily apparent when a reduction is what you want. An obsession with growth has been the anomaly. It has always needed to be propped up.
It is not enough though to tinker with what we do, we need to rethink our fundamental beliefs – root and branch. To move beyond efforts that leave the primacy of the economy and the need for growth intact. Quality of life should be put front and central and the focus be on what contributes to that.
How do we do this? No idea. But a start is to ask some questions and think about what options there could be. And it may be that when we get into the details they will often be intertwined – just as they are now. Thus a change in one area may suggest natural changes in others.
As an example lets consider education. This has grown to be an increasingly profit driven business that takes up more and more of a person’s life. For 50% of us it already extends well into our twenties. But to what benefit for the student. We are taught when we do not know what we will need in our lives. Why not get the basics, enter into the world, decide what else we need to know and then return to learn it. What are those basics? Much of education now appears to be about pushing competing ideologies. We have so much information at our fingertips but increasingly it is dressed up in opinion and we do not know what to trust. Can we get back to agreed upon facts. What if we were to start to re-build a safe source. It could be like Wikipedia – accessible to all, editable by all, but one version. Facts take root while opinions get weeded out. How long to get the basics? Maybe 6 years, probably not 16. If we go back for more later, it will be as motivated, focused learners and take less time with better results.
The time freed up by rethinking education might prompt us to consider other aspects of our life. What can be done with the remaining two stages of the current educate-work-retire lifecycle? We spend much of our lives planning and saving for the retirement phases. But why plan for life when we are at our weakest rather than living when at our strongest? Could we instead take a mid-life break or work less for the whole period?