By Julia Wartenberg, Director, Global Women’s Project, Center of Concern
For decades now, the quality of one’s life has been, primarily, measured by one’s wealth – income and assets – and consumption habits. The more money one has the better services, products and resources one can secure and, accordingly, improve her/his well-being and increase happiness. This mantra has served not just individuals, but governments as well. The Western model of development, characterized by the belief in economic growth – through neo-liberal and free market policies – as quintessential to “progress,” has served as the primary paradigm for countries of the Global South to follow. Many continue to believe that this is the best, and only, path countries should follow. Indeed, many maintain this is the only way out of our current economic conundrum.
But not all agree. In fact, countries in some countries in Latin America, and around the world, have not bought into this mode, upholding that there is more to the good life than just money. Both Ecuador and Bolivia had made buen vivir, “living well,” a central theme in their respective constitutions. Buen vivir is founded on the principle of respect for all living things. It strives to achieve balance and harmony through social community and congruous relationships among all living things. The latest briefing paper from the Global Women’s Project, “Buen Vivir: Redefining Wealth and Happiness,” examines the concept of buen vivir and discusses how U.S. society can make use of it. The paper can be downloaded at: https://www.coc.org/gwp/buen-vivir-redefining-wealth-and-happiness