Growth

Growth is one of those words that we all hear as a good thing. Unless we’re talking about the growth of something we don’t want, such as hair in your nose, corns on your feet or malignant cells in your body. We also don’t want growth in crime, in violence, in substance abuse or in any other socially undesirable areas. We aren’t fond of seeing growth in inflation, pollution, teen pregnancy or vacuous television programming (ah, the contrived nature of ‘reality TV’!).  And, of course, no one wants to witness any growth in the heartbreak of psoriasis.
 
So why do we worship at the temple of growth? 
 
For companies, growth is the Holy Grail. We will fire the CEO if the enterprise doesn’t maintain growth. We want our savings to grow so we won’t be behind when inflation grows, and since the companies we work for are growing we want our salaries to grow so we can have our standard of living grow …  and so on, and so on.
 
We really want good things to grow. We say we want to grow.
 
Everyone is ‘growing’ older. Some us are still trying to grow up.
 
Has anyone suggested that growth itself might be the problem? I think a lot of people come to this realization as they grow older. More and more of us are ‘downsizing’—performing anti-materialistic acrobatics of reverse growth—succumbing to the ideal of growing smaller (which is a bit of an oxymoron).
 
What if we put a moratorium on growth for a year?  No one is allowed to grow at all in any way for 365 days.
 
But darn it, if we did that, then people would begin to grow their patience. Since there wouldn’t be so much pressure to go out and acquire the next ‘thing’, they’d grow more serene. People might grow together. Even spend more time in the present and less time anticipating the future that never arrives. We might even grow satisfied with what we have—and that growing satisfaction would completely defeat the purpose of a no-growth policy.
 
Maybe we could just acknowledge that growing is what happens between birth and death and that, like gravity, it doesn’t even consider our point-of-view. Let’s face it: growth doesn’t care what we think. It happens and will happen anyway. We can never escape it. We can never control it. But we have a choice as to whether we accept it or resist it.
 
So let’s just say “Thanks” to life for helping us grow and let’s look forward to the growth we have yet to experience. Just imagine at 60 having 40 more years of unpredictable, uncontrollable growing to do!
 

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