If you walk through any market area of our major towns and cities a certain oddity may strike you. There are a large number of medical stores. In fact in my area there are more Chemists and Druggists than there are Grocery stores. This oddity almost leads one to think that we consume more pharma than food.
And strangely if we end up consuming more pharma than food then our Gross Domestic Product will go up exponentially. Because whole food without any processing is a first level activity where pharma, involving lots of ‘production’ steps will push our GDP. And in the competitive ranking of countries, it is the countries with more GDP that are considered ‘advanced’ while those with lesser GDP are called ‘developing’. Clearly a certain casteism of nations is at play here.
GDP having been defined as the common measure to rank nations, it leads to all sorts of policies that lean towards more production and thus more consumption. Ultimately ravaging the earth’s resources. And many critical resources such as fresh air, drinking water and weather being in severe peril.
See this interesting video animation that summarizes, rather dramatically, things so far
And every nation has a certain ‘competitive’ frame of mind that is deemed desirable. Being satisfied is considered rather smug and defeatist. The entire nation can be sick with regular medication, but hey if that improves GDP then that has to be good for all concerned.
Or atleast those in ‘control’ of our ‘policy making’
But it takes a land locked country like Bhutan, with a benevolent monarch to buck the trend. This is the only country which measures Gross National Happiness as a measure of progress. Read more on this at http://www.grossnationalhappiness.com/ and more fully here http://www.gnhbhutan.org/about/gnh_as_a_management_tool.aspx
The bottomline is that the indices that we use to measure our ‘progress’ leads us to behave in certain manners. Often unhealthy.
Take the case of another form of organization, the large publicly listed MNC. Most of them go by a metric of ‘growth’ that is called ‘Shareholder value’. Numerous studies on Corporate Governance have shown that this single metric of measuring companies is doing more harm than good to all its stakeholders. ‘Shareholder value’ is often only a euphemism for a rigged Share price. This leads to various tricks and fixes from the absolutely dishonourable rigging of accounts books ( think Satyam and think how the environment celebrated cooking the books in that organization ) or the bribes for allocation of telecom spectrum to the more sophisticated ones such as lay offs, outsourcing to sweat shops, built in product obsolescence, withdrawing support for earlier versions etc
The measures taken to boost ‘shareholder value’ may be illegal or undesirable but hey, top management bonuses and even ESOPs are all linked to it. Short termism rules.
An interesting article about this phenomenon is here http://corpgov.net/2012/06/review-the-shareholder-value-myth/
And the bottomline again is that the indices that we use to measure our ‘progress’ leads us to behave in certain unhealthy ways.
If you have stuck around so far thanks. Let us see how the sole metric of ‘timing’ is making us do unnatural things as runners.
– If your relatives / friends got up at 5 am and came to the airport to receive you, would you speed into the waiting taxi without even exchanging social courtesies with them? That would so so rude you will agree!!! The volunteers who support runners for long runs, get up at similar hours and wait in desolate location for hours. When they see a runner approaching they are happy and eager to be of service. Yet many runners, consumed by the speed bug, will not even stop and exchange social courtesies and partake of their offerings, but rather keep the pace unaltered so that they can meet a certain ‘timing’.
– How many of us know of runners who have taken short cuts, etc at races in order to beat timings? Why do race organizers have to spend so much on timing mats at turnaround points to ‘catch’ this?
– In the short-termism to get a PB in a certain racing event, how many of us have over trained and accumulated injuries. How healthy is it to hear a runner say, “OH I can easily do a X distance in Y time. But only if my knee does not act up !!! “
– How many of us have measured ourselves for biomarkers of overtraining that can be equally harmful as being sedentary?
I would encourage you to think of more and add to the list here.
Once again, the bottomline again is that the metrics that we use to measure our ‘progress’ leads us to behave in certain unhealthy ways.
So the important question to ask yourself is that “ Should the sole metric of speed make me resort to unhealthy trends in a recreation that I have taken up for my good health?”
More to follow…hang on and thanks for following this series so far.