What makes for a good society?

I stumbled across an old paper written by Amitai Etzioni in which he draws upon a key concept in his characterization of a good society.

Community is a combination of two elements: a) a web of affect-laden relationships among a group of individuals, relationships that often crisscross and reinforce one another--rather than merely one-on-one or chainlike individual relationships; b) a measure of commitment to a set of shared values, norms and meanings, and a shared history and identity--in short to a particular culture.

As well, I believe that a good society is a society that doesn't hesitate to ask the hard questions, to lead and participate in critical conversations about what is important to us, what we value, what is working and what is not working. This is one of the reasons I am leading one of the first Robert Bateman Conversations tomorrow, October 27th, on The Meaning of Progress and Growth in the 21st Century.

It is clear that the economic system is not working. The Worldwatch Institute has just released a report that argues "Creating a sustainable U.S. economy will require a thoughtful and strategic set of national, state, and local policies that essentially remake the economic playing field under a new set of principles.

  • Renewable resources cannot be consumed faster than they are regenerated.
  • Non-renewable resources must be reused or recycled to the greatest extent possible, creating a circular economy.
  • Ongoing development should focus less on ever-higher levels of consumption and more on increased quality of life.
  • A sense of fairness, especially around wealth distribution, is needed to generate social and economic stability across society.
  • Deceleration of population growth will make the creation of a sustainable economy far easier.

Are we capable of doing this, seems to me these are fairly simple and doable steps? Watch this inspiring video on Visualizing a Plenitude Economy.

I hope you 'listen in' tomorrow, we have a very diverse group of Canadians coming together to discuss this critical public policy question.

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