John was the new guy this year. He’s a free spirited sort who ended up driving the lead truck. For John, a posted 70 mph speed limit means you can drive at 77 and not likely tickle Smokey’s radar gun. So we did. And I, not wanting to sound like an old fuddy-dud about the speed, dutifully kept apace behind. That additional 7 mph got us to the first drop off location early, so we killed time while awaiting the Mississippi coordinators’ arrival. Hmmm… what exactly had we gained besides poorer gas mileage and less safe travel?
Perhaps that road trip is a bit like modern America’s view of progress. We’re in a big hurry to enshrine economic prosperity as the primary indicator of success. America is very skilled at generating wealth. Our $17 trillion dollar economy surpasses all others. You’d think that winning the “riches race” would make us the happiest people on Earth. Far from it.
This year’s Measurement of Well-Being and Progress ranking from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development places the U.S. just 15th out of the 34 member nations. And in a recent Gallup well-being index the U.S. fell from 12th to 23rd in the world. Our rush down the yellow brick road of economic success leaves us without a wizard at the end.
Commercialism wants us to believe that the consumption of more goods will be the key to our well-being. Black Friday encroaches upon our national day of giving thanks followed by Cyber Monday. Only then does Giving Tuesday arrive. In a meaningful life, isn’t this backwards?
Economic security is important, but it’s just one corner of the so-called “Golden Triangle” of happiness. A more fulfilling life would grant more attention to the other two corners - a sense of purpose and strong personal/social relationships. That would also ease the pressure our consumptive lifestyle places on Earth’s finite resources.
This holiday season I know one old fuddy-dud who plans to slow down and better appreciate what he already has. It’ll make for a healthier world on this, the only home we’ll ever know, here forever…Earthbound.”