Nonetheless, Unavoidable Change Has Arrived
History sometimes brings such moments. “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present,” Abraham Lincoln said during another era whose status quo dissolved. “We must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew” (December 1, 1862, State of the Union Message to Congress).
Although this book focuses on developments and patterns in the U.S., overwhelming evidence indicates the same things are happening throughout the world; each country, of course, has its own cultural characteristics.
As “growth” reshapes other countries, people there, too, have started to worry it may be a false god–may create problems as difficult, painful and worrisome as those it seems to solve.
See, for example, Paul Becket, “In India, Doubts Gather over Rising Giant’s Course” (Wall Street Journal, March 30, 2011).
“The boom,” Becket reports,
has created huge wealth for the business elite and much better lives for hundreds of millions of people. But the benefits of growth still haven’t spread widely among India’s 1.2 billion residents. And a string of corruption scandals has exposed an embarrassing lack of effective governance… Ravi Venkatesan, until this week chairman of Microsoft Corp.’s India arm, says his nation is at a crossroads.
‘We could end up with a rather unstable society, as aspirations are increasing and those left behind are no longer content to live out their lives. You already see anger and expressions of it,” he says. ‘I strongly have a sense we’re at a tipping point: There is incredible opportunity but also dark forces.’… Calorie consumption by the bottom 50% of the population has been declining since 1987, according to the 2009-10 economic survey conducted by India’s Ministry of Finance, even as those at the top of society struggle with rising obesity. Mainly because of malnutrition, around 46% of children younger than 3 years old are too small for their age, according to UNICEF.”
One former prime minister of India warned, the story reports, about the “mindless and heartless consumerism we have borrowed from the affluent societies of the West.”