The majority of world societies (at least the ones that interact on a global scale) have an obsession with unbridled growth. In the past centuries, a countries reputation, status, influence, and power comes primarily with an increase in GDP, an increase in productive labor, an increase in population, an increase in medical and technological advancements, an increase in diplomatic strategy, and an increase in surface area or foreign colonies. Because of the emphasis placed on developing these attributes, countries are required to expand at such a fast pace that they do not have time to consider how to effectively imbue this growth in their policies, in the lifestyles they promote to their citizens, and in understanding the effect that this growth has on a macroscopic scale.
This obsession with fast-paced, unreflective growth, an obsession that has steadily accumulated throughout the past century, extends throughout our modern society: into corporations, businesses, marketed personalities, families, relationships, friendships, and individual mindsets. In most aspects of society, the main target (and, unfortunately, the safest way to survive in the world) is to accumulate competitive power and wealth over others without heeding the negative consequences of such a mentality and the destruction that this mindset can cause on an individual, familial, national, and global basis. It’s why the main goal of most people today is not to be healthy, content, balanced, and helpful, but to run a Fortune 500 company, to create or head a successful start-up, to amass material possessions, to have the perfect, Instagrammable body (regardless of the unhealthy habits that it takes to get that), to obtain millions of followers and views on social media, to instigate and win in relationship power-games, or to always hardline negotiate for the better deal.
In essence, to win by expansive accumulation regardless of the long-term effects.
However, this laser-focus on growth in lieu of balance or assimilation is not sustainable. An organism that grows exponentially will either implode upon itself or explode in dramatic fashion. Skin, tissue, and organs need to adjust to rampant growth during periodic growth spurts, and at some point bodily growth tapers off baring exceptional circumstances. Start-ups begin to lose control when they surpass certain number of employees in a short period of time. The formation of new brain synapses tend to taper off after days of endless work and studying. Emotional stability becomes unstable if the sole focus is on emotional and spiritual growth over emotional and spiritual reflection.
But let us refocus our thoughts back to the macroscopic: our interconnected, globalized world.
It doesn’t take much introspection in considering the current state of the world to conclude that- if humans truly want to set up a prosperous future for the earth, it’s living organisms, and humanity in the upcoming years, we will need to take time to reassess our current values and mode of operating; for if we continue to grow in the manner in which we have been without stopping to consider how to positively use, store, and distribute this growth into society, we will be on the course to destroying ourselves and what surrounds us.
And in considering that, we should ask ourselves this important question: should our focus as a species still be on expansive growth, or on learning how to use and incorporate this remarkable growth into our changed reality? Concurrently, we should also ask ourselves if continuing to focus on lengthening lifetimes is the best overall for humanity if we don’t also focus on improving upon the quality of these lifetimes, Or if continuing to focus on increased lifespans is most worth our while if we refuse to put effort into accurately assessing the positive and negative attributes of this growth centuries in advance. For what good is human immortality if we cannot learn to mitigate the effects this growth has on our surroundings? As even if we can live 100,000 years, if the environment becomes inhospitable, we either perish as a species, live in incubated areas, or perhaps have no other option but to experience the world in a drug-induced or virtual reality.
Extreme growth like we have seen in the past centuries is remarkable. But it will take effort, reflection, and trial and error to understand how to not let this growth become the downfall of this planet and the living beings that inhabit it.
I think it’s time that we reevaluate our priorities and what we desire to accomplish. We have enough wealth and technology to provide comfortable lives for the majority of the worlds inhabitants. Let’s focus on using the inventions and prosperity we have already created in a way that limits the negative impact on the planet, humans, and other species rather than continue to focus on superficial technological platforms and unbridled growth and wealth.
Reflection is necessary if we want to curb the damage unbridled growth has done to our environment.
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