The False Idea of Progress
The dictionary defines progress as ‘development towards an improved or more advanced condition.’
We are said to be making progress as long as there is an onward movement towards a destination.
But can we really measure progress unless we first determine where are we coming from and where are we headed to?
The start line and the finish line.
It is preposterous to call ourselves progressive without knowing what progress is and where such progress is leading us.
We live in times where the belief to ‘fake it, until you make it’ is cemented strong at the very roots of our ambitions. We are fundamentally only window-dressing our lives to create an impression of progress; to present a more laudable image of the idea or mission we live by.
The truth is, we want to be seen as successful people. Being actually successful is secondary.
The saddest part, however, is that we equate progress with wealth. More money = Progress, is the equation we seemed to have derived uncritically. This is the fly in the ointment of progress. The false idea of progress.
Consumerism should take its fair share of the blame too. For it has succeeded in making us ‘good consumers’. The Good Consumer takes pride in his possessions and naively assumes that she or he has made progress by merely acquiring these possessions.
Doesn’t buying the latest gadget or the swankiest automobiles give us a progress-ly feeling?
Consumerism and the cult of swank has led us to believe that amassing great wealth and indulging in extravagant luxuries is nothing but progress.
Says Yuval Noah Harari:
“Consumerism has worked very hard, with the help of popular psychology (‘Just do it’) to convince people that indulgence is good for you, whereas frugality is self-oppression.”
Thanks to consumerism, frugality is now considered as a disease and frugal people are scorned upon as misfits.
Intellectual development, spiritual growth and psychological maturity are hardly recognized as parameters for measuring progress. Moral progress, social progress, cognitive progress are seldom attached any importance.
Maybe what we regard as progress is no progress at all.