Flourishing (Continued)


Here’s another reference to flourishing as the condition that underpins human existence. The website, Citizen Renaissance, is well worth bookmarking and following. It’s very encouraging to find others who see sustainability as I do and am trying to convince others to recognize that this way will change their efforts from trying to fix what’s wrong to realizing a positive vision of life on the Planet. Here’s a few key paragraphs.

The idea of wellbeing is more complex than just ‘happiness’ - in fact, it is more about leading a flourishing, meaningful or virtuous life. The Greeks referred to this more holistic view as ‘Eudaimonia’ - a state where public and personal interests are in accord. In Aristotle’s view, to be a truly flourishing individual, you must be an active participant in the flourishing of community. Thatcher had it all wrong - there really IS such a thing as society. Not just in a self-interested manner, but in a deeper way which respects the lives of all.

The novelist Ben Okri summed it up so very well recently, when he said, ‘The meltdown in the economy is a harsh metaphor of the meltdown of some of our value systems. Individualism has been raised almost to a religion, appearance made more important than substance. The only hope lies in a fundamental re-examination of the values that we have lived by in the past 30 years’.

And how might we do that? Personally, I’m with Vaclav Havel who believes ‘that the only option is a change in the sphere of the spirit, in the sphere of human conscience. It’s not enough to invent new machines, new regulations, new institutions. We must develop a new understanding of the true purpose of our existence on this Earth. Only by making such a fundamental shift will we be able to create new models of behaviour and a new set of values for the planet.’ This calls for what Professor Tim Jackson of the SDC describes as ‘the re-emergence of some kinds of meaning structures that lie outside the consumer realm.’