Watched another great documentary – Surviving Progress. It asks a lot of great questions, like what is progress? Before you watch it or read on, answer for yourself.
Chances are, your response is coloured by the tenets of your upbringing – your religion, your social or economic status, your peers, your country of birth and early living, your education. There is no one objective standard for progress.
A materialist will answer along the lines of making life easier or more enjoyable. A life extensionist (pretty sure that’s not a word) will answer along the lines of extending human life.
A staunch Christian might answer along the lines of moral cleansing so as to achieve eternity after death. A yogi might answer along the lines of deeper states of Samadhi (Stillness).
Another great question it raises is whether we are pursuing progress for progress’ sake at the expense of other things? Example from the film: learning to kill two mastodons at once instead of one is progress while learning to kill the whole herd at once by driving them off a cliff puts you in a precarious position next month when you’re hungry and mastodons are extinct.
Repeating The Same Mistakes
Bringing it closer to home – how about buying a newer and faster and oh so better anything instead of investing for your or our earth’s future?
How about devising even more ways to extract oil from the ground rather than devoting that same energy to more sustainable sources of energy? How about shucking off the past, saying no to the parents inside our heads and learning how to interact with others in a more loving, sensitive and effective way instead of continuing to make the same mistakes in our interpersonal relationships?
What It’s Not
While progress is definitely not doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result, to me, it is also not continuing to push for increased efficiency in everything at the expense of jobs or time well spent doing things slowly and well.
Progress as a species is great if it results in alleviating suffering for more and more people, but if it just results in a greater disparity between the rich and poor of this closed-loop system in which we live…
Choosing How To Invest
What has all this got to do with investing? I think your beliefs about progress will drive and/or be reflected in your investing profile and habits.
If you believe progress is more comfort for you and your immediate circle, you will invest in things that promise to provide good returns, regardless of the social or planetary consequences of those investments.
If you believe progress is enhanced awareness, you will invest in things that promise to advance your spirituality or education regardless of the practical applicability of those investments. And so on…
I’m not here to judge your beliefs, but I would suggest and encourage that investing, and everything in life, should be a considered thing and not merely a thing that happens by default.