Wednesday, May 28, 2008
what I'm reading: deep economy
I just finished reading Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future by Bill McKibben. The premise is that we need to stop focusing on the accumulation of more wealth (because its not making us happier) and focus on building stronger communities. In some ways, its shares themes from The Small-Mart Revolution (with a bit of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle thrown in). In more ways, it positions itself as the antithesis (one of my favorite words) to The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman.
I appreciate this counterpoint to The World is Flat, because when I was reading that last summer, mostly I thought, "I don't agree." Unfortunately, what I really got from both Deep Economy and The World is Flat is that we, in America, are screwed. Either we've become lazy and complacent (TWIF) and everyone in China and India is waiting to take our jobs and or we've well outlived our means (DE) and we need a serious shift in attitude before we destroy the world (which frankly I'm hard-pressed to believe will happen for a majority of Americans).
I don't consider myself a fatalist, or even a pessimist. (In fact, I've always considered myself someone who says, "well, the glass is half empty, but here's how we're going to fill it." Which, according to a cartoon I just saw, would probably make me an activist.) Unfortunately, despite what McKibben claims is meant to be a mostly hopeful tone, I ended Deep Economy feeling discouraged. Deep Economy really made me question what I'm doing with my life. By making jewelry, am I really contributing in a useful way, or am I just feeding consumerism and American's unending desire for more?
Endnote: I would just like to say, that if you're trying to choose between reading The Small-Mart Revolution or Deep Economy - go with The Small-Revolution. You'll feel more empowered, and less likely to curl up into a ball under your bench and cry.