We are so used to wishing prosperity to one another over the Lunar New Year, but maybe it is time to look more closely at what we mean by prosperity.
One definition of being prosperous is to be successful in material or financial terms or to be wealthy.
Unfortunately, we have narrowed prosperity or wealth to just economic or financial terms. Perhaps that’s a product of our self-centred individualistic capitalist times.
Whereas real wealth and the riches of life are much broader concepts: the treasure of family and community life; our priceless natural heritage – the hills, the seas, the rivers, the forests, the open green spaces to recharge our batteries; food security; a decent home; congestion-free and pollution-free mobility; and inclusive and representative governance that upholds the public interest instead of crony interests.
Our wealth and prosperity should not be earned at the expense of exploited workers paid a pittance (resulting in worsening income inequality), of the environment, or of public funds meant for the poor or national development. If it is, that prosperity would be fleeting, an illusion.
The effects of such false and selfish prosperity will come back and sting us through social problems (e.g. rising crime rates, drug addiction) or even environmental problems (smog and climate change).
In the end, we are all interconnected. If we earn our financial prosperity from our greed, while ignoring workers, customers (through profiteering), the environment or through corruption, then that prosperity is likely to be meaningless and ultimately unfulfilling.
Far better to aim for a prosperity built on a foundation of living in harmony with one another – paying workers a fair and liveable wage, observing ethical practices, protecting the ecology for future generations and shunning corrupt practices.
Wishing you a sustainably prosperous new year ahead.