Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Another Inspiring Country

Without really setting out to do so, I seem to be gathering a list of "countries I admire" as I read and come upon interesting stories. First, there was Ecuador when they passed a new constitution protecting the rights of non-human species, whole ecosystems, and the process of evolution to work its way in the natural world. 

Then (although I had first read of this a couple of years ago) after my new year's post about happiness my friend Barbara Babkirk reminded me of the Kingdom of Bhutan, one of the first nations to begin to consider policies and actions from the perspective of a "gross national happiness" index, which embraces all sorts of quality of life issues, instead of the dominant "gross national product" approach (which, as we well know, can lead to all sorts of excesses, abuses, and social and environmental distress).

Now, comes Costa Rica in Thomas Friedman's column on Saturday's New York Times. Costa Rica began in 1997 to build on an understanding that protecting the incredible beauty and bio-diversity of their natural environment would be key to the economic health of their country, and they have structured their government ministries and policies accordingly, with impressive success.

There may have been a time (well, yes, let's say roughly from election day 2000 until the eve of election day 2008) when I actually imagined moving to one of these countries. I'm sure there are others to consider as well, if I were really going to get serious about it. 

But now it's clear to me that my "short list" of admired and inspiring countries are for me signs of hope, sources of inspiration, and a reminder that whole nations (albeit smaller ones than ours) really can commit to saner and more sustainable ways of living and doing business--and succeed! Oh yes, and be happier in the process! What's not to love about that?

Anyone else have a favorite admired and inspiring country to brag about?

By the way, speaking of bragging, aren't you at least a tiny bit impressed by my new-found facility with adding hyperlinks to my blog? (Thanks, David!)

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