Monday, December 06, 2004

Progress--Worth the cost?

In Environmental Science class, we were told that each change (agricultural revolution, industrial revolution, etc.) brings more technology, increased population, longer life spans, more accumulation, more resource use, more pollution, and accelerated environmental degredation. Mr. B, our teacher, said it was a vicious cycle. I am sure some of my fellow students thought he ought to know, that he probably had been around since the agricultural revolution at least. The man wasn’t that old, in his mid seventies, maybe.

For some reason, I noted this list in my journal and promptly labeled it depressing. Depressing, because, what can we do?

And last week I heard Dr. Richard Swenson discussing his book Margin, talking about how it is the nature of progress to bring more problems and to consume more of our time. He recommends that we build margin into our lives to avoid the stresses of living a life that is just too full.

When I started working in the mid seventies at a local sporting goods store, the shoe department was a simple place. If one played football, they wore Vikings, for tennis, they wore Tretorns (can’t remember what they wore for baseball). If you played basketball, there were two choices. Did you want your canvas Converse shoes to be high tops, or low quarters? And what color would you like? We have so many choices today, so many options to complicate our lives, not only in shoes, but in every aspect of our lives as consumers.

We go through personal growth spurts, and we learn new things about ourselves, or about our world, and we are faced with choices that may upset the balance of our comfort zone.

No doubt about it, change, progress, growth, whatever you want to call it, whether it is in the big picture of the world or in the microscopic view of our selves, always extracts a price. What I am wondering today is whether change, progress, or growth ever costs more than it is worth. Do these things ever become “economically” unfeasible?

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