Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
The society of degrowth is a shift to a different model of society where economic growth can be there but it is no longer the main goal of nations. It is a radically different paradigm that places human and nature, i.e Life, at the center of its concern.
It acknowledges the good things that economic systems based on economic growth have brought to human lives and conditions. But it also acknowledges its discontents, the many threats and crisis it has engendered.
Our current system has now sufficiently shown its limits regarding the three pillars of sustainable development: it is not sustainable socially, economically and environmentally. Even politically it is now sources of more and more tensions and threats to democracies.
The deconnexion from our spiritual essence
What about other concerns such as values? mindsets? beliefs?
Back in the days, religion used to be the major playor ruling these links between individuals within a same community.
Today, due to an economy based on competition, people are encouraged to be individualistic. Moreover, the waves of liberty that started in the late 60’s have valorised liberty in all the fields, including values, mindsets, beliefs. Little by little, people living in this unchained society have started to have no point of reference anymore; and everyone can arbitrarily choose his/her own depending on the social and cultural influences.
With the progress of science, religion started not to be an answer enough convincing. At the same time, it was more and more emptying its spiritual content, losing this way its core component. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a spiritual leader from India, says:
“Religion is the banana skin. Spirituality is the banana itself”.
So religion is only here to keep spirituality “fresh” and alive throught ceremonies and custom. But I feel like many religious people tend to focus only on these upper layers and to the functioning of their institution, thus forgetting spirituality.
I think all these factors are part of the reason why more and more people claim to be atheist. With religion on the sideline and few considerations to morals, people get embarked in the consumption society model and materialism seems to be a decent enough approach to rule one’s life.
In such an environment, spiritual aspects are totally out, yet it leaves people with a feeling of emptiness. Indeed, spirituality is not something you get out of your life that easily precisely because it is deeply linked to our human nature.
Consume? It makes people feel poorer and poorer instead and comfort them in a whole set of illusions. However this is what society as a whole is designed to make you do.
Recolonizing the minds
Do you understand where I am getting to?
Degrowth is more than a revolution in the way we want to organize our society. By putting Life at the center of its concern, it opens the big door of spirituality!
But what is spirituality?
You admire stars in the night? This is spirituality.
You admire a dog raising its little puppies? This is spirituality
You admire wonderful landcapes of trees and plants? This is spirituality
You admire the beauty of the human body? Spirituality!
All these non-activities have something in common: they address our very nature of being human on Earth.
Anytime you just keep quiet and reconnect to your own being, letting your mind go, feeling yourself alive, feeling the connections between you and the world, embracing the “wholiness”, it is spirituality.
Therefore not only is the project of degrowth to decolonize the minds from consumerism, but it is also to recolonize the minds with a sense spirituality, which is very different from religion. We don’t speak about common custom or ceremonies that don’t make a lot of sense to a lot of people nowadays. No, we are speaking about rebuilding core values, human values, Life values, common to everyone by nature.
Then it is up to every community to create its own new adapted custom, or renew the old ones, or just not to do anything, it doesn’t really matter as long as people live “enlightened”.
The first universal value that I believe comes out of spirituality is respect.
Respect people, whoever they are.
Respect all living things on Earth, animals and plants, they are all made out of the same matter, they deserve the same right to live good, to enjoy life on Earth as good as it can be.
Respect the Earth, it is house to Life, a miracle that goes way beyond our understanding.
Other values: Being tolerant, Caring, Empathic, Sharing, Contributing…
Willing to build a better world is acknowledging the spiritual part that goes with it by essence.
So this is my message here: degrowth and spirituality are two faces of the same coin. One necessarily goes with another, and conversely. Let’s show both the faces because I believe both of them are needed to build more peaceful and resilient society.
I know these topics can be quite new for many people, and this is precisely why I’m bringing them up. If there is anything that you would like me to develop, or anything you want to say about this post, please let us a comment!