The idea behind the Modern Enlightenment project is simple: to help make timeless traditions and ancient wisdom an integral part of our modern progressive world. I want to share resources and ideas that will help all of us achieve greater levels of happiness, wisdom and compassion in our everyday lives. This includes reviewing literature and research, videos and inspirational ideas, communicating together about what we believe matters most, and working together to create a brighter, more enlightened future.
I saw one such idea in this humbling TEDTalk on global economics by Tim Jackson, where he tries to draw out a moral from our economic troubles, a global recession and our changing and developing world.
Seven minutes into his talk he says, "This is a story about us, people, being persuaded to spend money we don't have, on things we don't need, to create impressions that won't last, on people we don't care about... Is this really how people are?" he asks. "It seems that the system is at odds with how we are as people."
I'm as guilty as the next person - I get that empty feeling in me when I see something I want, something I just have to have. It doesn't matter if it's a bottle of Sprite or the newest technological gadget. I didn't need it before, but now that I see it, I want it. It's such a powerful feeling. In Peace Corps, and in Mongolia in particular, it's been easier to avoid the advertisements and constant reminders of things I "need", but I can't avoid it forever.
At the end of his talk, after a lot of great examples, Tim closes with his idea of a meaningful prosperity. "Investment is just such a basic economic concept, it is nothing more or less than the relationship between the present and the future. A shared present and a common future... We need to develop a new definition of prosperity. A prosperity that is more meaningful and less materialistic than the growth-based model. The idea of meaningful prosperity is not about standing in the way of development. It's not about overthrowing capitalism. It's not about trying to change human nature. What we're doing here is taking a few simple steps towards an economics fit for purpose. And at the heart of that economics we're placing a more credible, more robust, and more realistic vision of what it means to be human."
I think Modern Enlightenment can be a part of that. I want it to be a project that talks about what it means to be human in our modern, fast-paced, developing world. I would love to hear what you think. To learn more about Tim's vision of Prosperity without Growth and watch his TEDTalk, visit Economic Reality Check on TED.com.
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