Is progress good or bad?

January 17, 2012 by  
Filed under No Impact Man

I spent much of this morning on the phone with a friend who is one of the top leaders in corporate sustainability. He wanted to know my thoughts on "innovation" and "progress."

Did I think they were good or bad? Did I think the drive for both helped or hindered the quest for a life that is both happier for the people and happier for the planet?

After a long long conversation, I realized that the whole thing could be summed up so simply. I wrote:

Dear –,

You know, ultimately my perspective comes from this place:

What are we for? Why are we alive?

It's not that there is conceptual answer to this, but most of us, when we're quiet, have a sense of whether the next step takes us towards that purpose or away from it.

And most of us, too, can be tempted away from our True Direction (whatever it is).

Do products and services–innovative or not–attempt to bring people towards that True Direction or do they tempt them away from it by amplifying fear or anger or ignorance?

Chance are, if it does the former then that product or service will regenerate both the habitat and the human spirit. If it does the later, it will degrade both.

So the question, really, is not whether it is innovative, simple or techno.

The question is over the use of the innovative, simple or techno. Does that use cause aspiration (the filling up with spirit–see etymology) or desperation (the emptying out of spirit).

No matter where you stand on the sustainability scale, by the measure I've just described, where does a brand fit that attempts to frighten a women into believing she is not a good mother if her child's shirt is not as white as the next child's?


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