Tuesday, April 29, 2008


I have been watching that new Australian show on the ABC called 'East of Everything'. I am enjoying it - its a bit like 'Sea Change', and that bloke, Art, is so....appealing. Any way, in the first show it referred to a book he was writing, called "Gross National Happiness". I thought, what a great way to measure a country's success that would be, instead of Gross Domestic Product (or Gross Dire Predictions and other alternatives!). Imagine, instead of a tax form, having to fill in a happiness form which might ask you things like :
  1. How many times per week did you put someone else before yourself in order to make them happy?
  2. How many times did you tell someone you love them?
  3. How much did you give away, on average, per week? Include all garden produce, home-made preserves and other home-made goods, gifts to charities, time spent helping someone, clothes and other household items that were not old or worn out?
  4. How many times did you laugh?
  5. How many times did you make someone else laugh?
  6. Can you count on more than one hand all the times you felt like singing along with a song, in the last month?
  7. Would people say you are kind?
  8. Do you feel you have achieved anything really worthwhile in the last 2 months? 6months? 12 months?
  9. How often do you feel bored?
  10. List all the things that make you really angry, then throw the list away!

Lots of people are not happy. Lots and lots. Not really happy, inside. I think western-ness is getting a bit anti-happy. Everything has gone topsy-turvy and there are not the community bonds to hold the fabric of life together - the cloth is wearing out fast and humans were never meant to lead a solitary existence. We need a certain amount of connections, even me who is more solitary than most, to keep mending the tears in the fabric we weave, otherwise we become lost and directionless and float about hoping to get caught in someone else's web, somewhere.

It is all about the community basket of life. Inside the basket of a strong community is sustenance and hope and sharing and these things fill the basket with rare and beautiful experiences. These baskets, of which there were thousands, seem to have decayed and lost some of their precious contents - some spilled over into the bottomless pit called greed and some has been chewed up and spat out by governments making false promises while others have just not been replenished because time has called people away from their hearths, where so much warmth used to be found.

I think we have to offer 'community' and have people take it up willingly. I wrote about this in the post on the 2020 vision. I really meant what I said. Giving, not money, is the only way forward - give all Australian families a plot in a community garden near them, some seeds, a fork and a ho-mi or trowel and some gardeners who offer their time to help anyone who needs it and watch the transformation. As people gather to see their space - strangers at first - tiny seeds of friendship, hope and potential will be sown along with the vegetable seeds and all will grow, in their own ways - some better than others, until a new fabric is loosely woven and the softness of the cloth begins to attract the outsiders who want to feel its richness and it begins to draw them under its shelter.

If there is just one thing I would ever like to accomplish for the earth it is this. With a renewed sense of connection between people I think we could make some serious progress towards extending our thoughts and actions to encompass the earth at large. I just don't see how else we can concentrate fully on the severity of world degradation if we can't even hold together long enough to get a grip on any solutions. First we need to make the cement that will hold the bricks together.

Gross National Happiness. Today's solution for tomorrow.

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